In today's first reading, St. Paul writes to the Hebrews that because God Himself donned flesh, he has won the victory over evil. It was through Christ's physicality that He was able to be our Savior. Though God could have saved us in any way He wished, He decided to belittle Himself and become bone and flesh. This guides our minds to the mountain of knowledge of just how precious our bodies are. Not only did Christ humble Himself, but allowed His physical suffering for the betterment of mankind. Jesus put Himself to the test in order that we might know that no matter what we are going through, He understands. "Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested." (Heb 2:18) Christ's suffering is what has redeemed mankind, and it is through our voluntary suffering in which our bodies are able to join in His redeeming mission. Though our mission might be much different than His, our voluntary hours in the gym can be used for our mission of joining Christ in the fight.
In the second reading, taken from the Gospel of Mark, two specific instances really jump out at me. One being the continual spiritual combat in which our Lord engaged. Jesus drove out demons at the request of His apostles. The demons were not permitted to speak because they knew Who Jesus was. Though Satan and his minions might think that they have a fighting chance, just the name of Jesus shut their mouths, not out of respect but out of fear. Christ was a man of deep honor and virtue. Besides the fact that He was God Himself, who He was as a man scared the demons silent. So, the modern notion that Christ was a feel-good teacher Who only wants everyone to be happy could be put to shame based off of this one fact, Christ instilled fear into his enemies. Though we as bodybuilders should never have instilling fear or intimidating others as one of our goals, we should also not stray from the thought that our time in the weight room might very well be preparing us for the possibility of facing our enemies, whether spiritual or corporal. It is similar to a father's relationship with his future son-in-law: you must always be loving but that little crack of fear within that boy's heart could be a great thing for the marriage as a whole. The son-in-law will treat the daughter with respect, out of love for her and also out of respect for who she comes from. We men are made to be the protectors of God's creation and perhaps a little fear in those who mean to do evil, just might be healthy for everyone.
Also, following in the example of Christ, it was His suffering which gave us the ability to drive out our own inner demons. Be they addictions, vices or simply small weaknesses, Christ gives each of us the grace to overcome them. Weight lifting and fitness not only expounds that grace to its fullest potential but it also creates opportunities for more grace by voluntary suffering.
The second instance, which really drives home the previous points, is that Christ the morning after doing His good work, went out into a deserted place and prayed. He knew that in order to keep up His mission, solitary, heart-felt prayer must be a daily practice, even if the night before was hectic. We too, especially as bodybuilders, must find times when we can escape the noise and retreat into the Heart of God. Our prayer lives must be given just as much, if not profoundly more, attention than our fitness goals. Without a growing knowledge and love of Who our Savior is and who He wants us to be, we are like lost children moving the weight around with no purpose. Let us always reflect on Christ's power over our inner demons and allow Him to use our time in the weight room to His and our advantage so that we might repeat with Him in our own mission: "For this purpose have I come" (Mk 1:38)