The Word: The theme of Christ’s message
Published 8:45 am Saturday, April 22, 2023
Born without arms or legs in 1982, Australian Nick Vujicic suffered intensely from bullying and a feeling of hopelessness as a child. He was so despairing of his future that when he was 10 years old, he tried to drown himself in six inches of water in the bathtub. The only thing that stopped him from completing his own suicide was the thought of the heartbreak of his parents if he went through with it. He said later that he knew that the only thing worse than a child without limbs is a child without limbs who gives up.
When you see Nick or watch one of his speeches, his disability is so visible that it’s impossible to forget what he has overcome. Well, during this Easter season, our gaze is turned to Christ, and His five wounds remind us what He has overcome, where He has come from, so to speak. Yes, from the tomb, but ultimately from the Cross, which, from a purely human perspective, was a scene so full of defeat that it seemed no good could possibly come from it.
Of course, we know this already. We know that the majority of Our Lord’s apostles were disappointed because He hadn’t done what they wanted Him to do (defeat the Roman governors and return Israel to its rightful rulers), and now it was “too late.” Fulton Sheen writes of this in his Life of Christ. Little did the apostles know that the “hand that broke the cup of their petty desires offered a richer chalice…. They must have heard Him say on many occasions that He would be crucified and rise again, but they could not fit catastrophe into their idea of a Master.”
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So it is with us. There is often some area in our lives – past sin, a physical condition, an acute mental suffering, to name only a few examples – that we view somehow as a disability, something that holds us back. Perhaps we are convinced that it’s a circumstance in which defeat is so complete that no good can possibly come from it.
In God’s mercy, this leads us back to Calvary, back to a situation that Christ’s friends despaired of completely. It might seem the same with us, but this Easter, Christ repeats to us the theme that He repeats over and over throughout the centuries and throughout our lives: that, no matter how convinced we are that something is beyond help, we still have the love of Christ, or the possibility of His love. We might be like Nick Vujicic and appear to be beyond help. Nick has hope, though, not because he has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, so to speak, but because he has accepted his condition of dependence and taken the right steps to move forward with hope. In this Easter season, that is what Christ asks of the rest of us, too.
BR. MAXIMILIAN WATNER is on the staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Buckingham County. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.