In the Lectionary

August 23, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: John 6:56-69

Each summer, ESPN magazine puts out its annual body issue. While the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue aims to titillate, the ESPN body issue is far more interested in the human form for its own sake. The magazine gathers athletes from various sports and asks them to pose in the nude. The result is pure art. You can see how the athletes train for their various sports and how their bodies conform to these sports.

What’s fascinating is how many different body types are pictured: big and small, lean and toned, in various hues. Para-­athletes are included as well; the human form is celebrated even when it’s missing an arm or a leg. The body issue re­minds us that people come in all shapes and sizes and that underneath an athlete’s padding, behind all the hat tricks and three-pointers, there is a human being with a human body.

The body issue also makes me think about my own body. We so often feel embarrassed about our own bodies because they don’t fit some ideal. But looking at the photos, I can see people who look a bit like me. Maybe I’m not as fit as they are, but there is some similarity. Maybe, just maybe, I can see myself and others—and praise God for being fearfully and wonderfully made.