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The doctrine about the Resurrection and the formation of theological anthropology

66 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 2 December 1981 - in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mk 12:25). These words have a key meaning for the theology of the body. Christ uttered them after having affirmed, in the conversation with the Sadducees, that the resurrection is in conformity with the power of the living God. All three synoptic Gospels report the same statement, except that Luke's version is different in some details from that of Matthew and Mark. Essential for them all is the fact that, in the future resurrection, human beings, after having reacquired their bodies in the fullness of the perfection characteristic of the image and likeness of God—after having reacquired them in their masculinity and femininity—"neither marry nor are given in marriage." Luke expresses the same idea in chapter 20:34-35, in the following words: "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage."

2. As can be seen from these words, marriage, that union in which, according to Genesis, "A man cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (2:24)—the union characteristic of man right from the beginning—belongs exclusively to this age. Marriage and procreation do not constitute, on the other hand, the eschatological future of man. In the resurrection they lose, so to speak, their raison d'être. "That age," of which Luke spoke (20:35), means the definitive fulfillment of mankind. It is the quantitative closing of that circle of beings, who were created in the image and likeness of God, in order that, multiplying through the conjugal "unity in the body" of men and women, they might subdue the earth. "That age" is not the world of the earth, but the world of God, who, as we know from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, will fill it entirely, becoming "everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15:28).

3. At the same time "that age," which according to revelation is "the kingdom of God," is also the definitive and eternal "homeland" of man (cf. Phil 3:20). It is the "Father's house" (Jn 14:2). As man's new homeland, that age emerges definitively from the present world, which is temporal—subjected to death, that is, to the destruction of the body (cf. Gen 3:19, "to dust you shall return")—through the resurrection. According to Christ's words reported by the synoptic Gospels, the resurrection means not only the recovery of corporeity and the re-establishment of human life in its integrity by means of the union of the body with the soul, but also a completely new state of human life itself. We find the confirmation of this new state of the body in the resurrection of Christ (cf. Rom 6:5-11). The words reported by the synoptic Gospels (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35) will ring out then (that is, after Christ's resurrection) to those who had heard them. I would say almost with a new probative force, and at the same time they will acquire the character of a convincing promise. For the present, however, we will dwell on these words in their pre-paschal phase, referring only to the situation in which they were spoken. There is no doubt that already in the answer given to the Sadducees, Christ revealed the new condition of the human body in the resurrection. He did so precisely by proposing a reference and a comparison with the condition in which man had participated since the "beginning."

4. The words, "They neither marry nor are given in marriage" seem to affirm at the same time that human bodies, recovered and at the same time renewed in the resurrection, will keep their masculine or feminine peculiarity. The sense of being a male or a female in the body will be constituted and understood in that age in a different way from what it had been from the beginning, and then in the whole dimension of earthly existence. The words of Genesis: "A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (2:24), constituted right from the beginning that condition and relationship of masculinity and femininity, extended also to the body, which must rightly be defined as conjugal and at the same time as procreative and generative. It is connected with the blessing of fertility, pronounced by God (Elohim) when he created man "male and female" (Gn 1:27). The words Christ spoke about the resurrection enable us to deduce that the dimension of masculinity and femininity—that is, being male and female in the body—will again be constituted together with the resurrection of the body in "that age."

5. Is it possible to say something more detailed on this subject? Beyond all doubt, Christ's words reported by the synoptic Gospels (especially in the version of Luke 20:27-40) authorize us to do so. We read there that "Those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead...cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God" (Matthew and Mark report only that "They are like angels in heaven"). This statement makes it possible above all to deduce a spiritualization of man according to a different dimension from that of earthly life (and even different from that of the beginning itself). It is obvious that it is not a question here of transforming man's nature into that of the angels, that is, a purely spiritual one. The context indicates clearly that in that age man will keep his own human psychosomatic nature. If it were otherwise, it would be meaningless to speak of the resurrection.

The resurrection means the restoring to the real life of human corporeity, which was subjected to death in its temporal phase. In the expression of Luke (20:36) just quoted (and in that of Mt 22:30 and Mk 12:25), it is certainly a question of human, that is, psychosomatic nature. The comparison with heavenly beings, used in the context, is no novelty in the Bible. Among others, it is said in a psalm, exalting man as the work of the Creator, "You have made him little less than the angels" (Ps 8:5). It must be supposed that in the resurrection this similarity will become greater. It will not be through a disincarnation of man, but by means of another kind (we could also say another degree) of spiritualization of his somatic nature—that is, by means of another "system of forces" within man. The resurrection means a new submission of the body to the spirit.

6. Before beginning to develop this subject, it should be recalled that the truth about the resurrection had a key meaning for the formation of all theological anthropology, which could be considered simply as an anthropology of the resurrection. As a result of reflection on the resurrection, Thomas Aquinas neglected in his metaphysical (and at the same time theological) anthropology Plato's philosophical conception on the relationship between the soul and the body and drew closer to the conception of Aristotle.(1)

The resurrection bears witness, at least indirectly, that the body, in the composite being of man as a whole, is not only connected temporarily with the soul (as its earthly "prison," as Plato believed).(2) But together with the soul it constitutes the unity and integrity of the human being. Aristotle taught precisely that,(3) unlike Plato. If St. Thomas accepted Aristotle's conception in his anthropology, he did so considering the truth about the resurrection. The truth about the resurrection clearly affirmed, in fact, that the eschatological perfection and happiness of man cannot be understood as a state of the soul alone, separated (according to Plato: liberated) from the body. But it must be understood as the state of man definitively and perfectly "integrated" through such a union of the soul and the body, which qualifies and definitively ensures this perfect integrity.

Let us interrupt at this point our reflection on the words spoken by Christ  about the resurrection. The great wealth of content enclosed in these words induces us to take them up again in further considerations."

After the catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je viens d'évoquer en italien quelques aspects de la théologie du corps humain qui découlent de notre foi en la résurrection et des paroles de Jésus: " Ceux qui auront été jugés dignes d’avoir part à la résurrection d’entre les morts ne prennent plus ni femme ni mari; aussi bien ne peuvent-ils plus mourir, car ils sont pareils aux anges et ils sont fils de Dieu, étant fils de la résurrection ". La résurrection marquera donc un autre degré de spiritualisation de l’homme, une nouvelle soumission du corps à l’esprit; mais non pas une désincarnation: la nature humaine psychosomatique y demeure; et, si le mariage et la procréation n’ont plus de raison d’être dans ce monde de Dieu, les ressuscités y gardent leur particularité d’homme et de femme, vécue sous un mode tout nouveau.

Al Movimento Internazionale degli Intellettuali Cattolici

Avec plaisir, je salue tous les pèlerins de langue française présents à cette rencontre et en particulier c’est aux membres du Mouvement International des Intellectuels Catholiques, présents à Rome pour leur symposium sur le " nouvel ordre économique international ", que j’adresse mes encouragements et mes remerciements pour leur aimable visite.

Je souhaite que vos travaux apportent une contribution d’inspiration chrétienne aux recherches en cours dans ce domaine particulièrement complexe, afin que, progressivement et concrètement, apparaissent les solutions propres à dépasser les inégalités et les injustices criantes entre les peuples. Cette solidarité réelle et internationale est une condition essentielle à la paix entre les nations et à l’avènement d’une civilisation digne de notre époque. Que l’enseignement du Magistère ecclésial demeure pour vous et vos collaborateurs une source précieuse de lumière et de courage! Je confie au Christ Rédempteur les tâches délicates que vous assumez, et je lui demande de vous bénir.

Ai "Frères de Ploërmel et de Saint-Gabriel"

Je voudrais encore ne pas manquer d’encourager les Frères de Ploërmel et de Saint-Gabriel qui poursuivent ensemble avec ardeur un stage de rénovation spirituelle. Vous aussi, que le Seigneur vous bénisse!

Ai fedeli di lingua inglese

During this first audience of Advent, I wish to greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from the United States. In speaking about the theology of the body, we have seen how Christ links the resurrection of the body to the power of God. It is also important to note how Christ considers the resurrection, not only as the re-establishment of human life in its bodily integrity, but also as a new state. This is why Jesus says that when people rise from the read "they neither marry nor are given in marriage".

* * *

I am very happy to welcome the Sisters of the ARC Program, who have come to Rome from different continents. Through his Holy Spirit may Jesus Christ communicate to each of you the greatness of your consecration in the Church. May the truth of Jesus free you, and his love possess you fully and for ever.

My greetings go also to the priests from the United States who are studying at Casa Santa Maria. Always remember how much the people look to you in order to receive God’s holy word. Dear brothers, the effectiveness of your priestly leadership depends directly on your union with Jesus Christ, High Priest and Victim of salvation.

Ai pellegrini tedeschi

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Mit einem herzlichen Willkommensgruß zu dieser Audienz wünsche und erbitte ich euch und euren Familien in der Heimat einen gnadenreichen Advent.

In den heutigen kurzen Überlegungen lenke ich eure Aufmerksamkeit auf die Aussagen Jesu über die Auferstehung des Leibes. Er sagt im Evangelium: Wenn die Menschen "von den Toten auferstehen, werden sie nicht mehr heiraten, sondern wie die Engel im Himmel sein". Damit unterstreicht der Herr, daß die Ehe ausschließlich eine Einrichtung dieser Welt ist. In der Auferstehung werden die Körper zwar ihre geschlechtliche Verschiedenheit als Mann und Frau bewahren, Ehe und Fortpflanzung verlieren jedoch ihren Berechtigungsgrund. Der menschliche Leib wird nicht nur wieder zum Leben erweckt, sondern zugleich von innen her verwandelt und neugestaltet. Er erfährt eine Vergeistigung, die der Existenzweise der Engel gleichen wird.

Seien wir uns dieser hohen endzeitlichen Berufung unseres Leibes stets bewußt und suchen wir ihr durch ein wahrhaft christliches Leben zu entsprechen. Dazu begleite ich euch mit meinem besonderen Gebet und Segen.

Saluto in lingua neerlandese

Zeer hartelijk groet ik ook alle pelgrims uit Hilversum in Nederland, die zich vandaag hier bevinden. Uw verblijf in Rome moge voor u allen een aansporing zijn om de ganse Adventstijd in gebed en bezinning te beleven als een voorbereiding op de komst van de Heer. Meer dan ooit heeft onze gemeenschap nood aan de liefde en de vrede die alleen de Prins van de Vrede kan brengen. Aan allen schenk ik gaarne mijn bijzondere zegen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

A cada persona y grupo procedente de España, de Colombia, México, Argentina y de otros Países de América Latina, doy mi saludo y bendición, y agradezco su venida a esta Audiencia.

Continuando las reflexiones iniciadas en las semanas precedentes, os invito a pensar en la futura resurrección de nuestros cuerpos. Cuando Cristo nos dice que los resucitados no tomarán ya mujer ni marido, enseña quel el matrimonio y la procreación pertenecen exclusivamente a este mundo terreno y no se darán en el futuro.

En ese otro mundo, la patria definitiva del hombre, que llamamos reino de Dios o casa del Padre, entraremos en la dimensión eterna del ser humano mediante la resurrección. Será una dimensión y estado nuevo de vida, en el que el cuerpo del hombre y de la mujer mantendrá sus peculiaridades propias, revestido de inmortalidad y con una espiritualización de la naturaleza humana, que lo hará semejante a los ángeles.

Un saludo especial para los jóvenes de la " Cruzada Estudiantil de Colombia ".

Queridos jóvenes: en vuestras tareas escolares y vida entera, procurad dar un claro testimonio de espíritu cristiano, deseosos de agradar siempre a Dios y de servirlo con predilección en los más necesitados. A vosotros, formadores y familiares, os doy mi cordial Bendición Apostólica.

* * *

Ai fedeli di lingua portoghese

Queridos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

No Advento, tempo penitencial e tempo de esperança no " Senhor que vem ", meditamos sobre o corpo humano, que há-de ressuscitar um dia.

Num colóquio com os Saduceus Jesus explicou que o matrimónio só tem sentido na vida presente do homem, neste mundo. No " outro mundo " na nova " pátria " definitiva, na " casa do Pai ", permanecem o ser homem e o ser mulher; mas não a união matrimonial: aí, " são semelhantes aos anjos e, sendo filhos da ressurreição, são filhos de Deus ".

Não se tratará de uma desencarnação: na perfeição escatológica, na felicidade futura, o homem manterá a sua natureza psico-somática, será " integrado " pela alma e pelo corpo; mas este, ressuscitado, numa nova submissão ao espírito.

Que a esperança de ressuscitar com Cristo ilumine a vida presente de todos: é o que vos desejo, com a Bênção Apostólica!

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Pragnę przy sposobności pozdrowić także i innych, naszych sąsiadów Słowian, niektórych spotkałem przechodząc przez aulę: Słowaków i – nie wiem – czy Słoweńców, czy Kroatów z Jugosławii. Wszystkich witam serdecznie: niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus. Witam pielgrzymów z Polski: z parafii św. Józefa w Kielcach oraz indywidualnych pielgrzymów z róznych miast: z Warszawy, Gdyni, Katowic, z Pleszewa, Łodzi, a także z Krakowa, bo ich spotkałem. Prócz tego siostry Misjonarki z Libii i Brazylii oraz Polaków z Kanady.

Pragnę naprzód krótko streścić to, co było i jest tematem dzisiejszego rozważania. Nawiązujemy obecnie, w tym trzecim z kolei cyklu teologii ciała, do słów Chrystusa mówiących o przyszłym zmartwychwstaniu. Te słowa są zapisane u Mateusza, Marka i Łukasza, u wszystkich trzech Synoptyków. U Łukasza te słowa brzmią tak: “dzieci tego świata żenią się i za mąż wychodzą, lecz ci, którzy uznani zostaną za godnych udziału w świecie przyszłym i w powstaniu z martwych, ani się żenić będą, ani za mąż wychodzić”. Dodają Synoptycy: “będą podobni aniołom”.  Słowa te przede wszystkim mówią o małżeństwie, jako o powołaniu człowieka w wymiarze historycznym jego bytowania. Od początku do kresu, ale tylko w wymiarze historycznym. Małżeństwo nie należy, według tych wyraźnych słów Chrystusa, do stanu człowieka w świecie przyszłym, po zmartwychwstaniu. Natomiast do stanu człowieka po zmartwychwstaniu należy ciało, ciało w jego męskości i kobiecości, odnowione, dane człowiekowi na nowo, tak jak Chrystusowi w zmartwychwstaniu zostało dane na nowo Jego ludzkie ciało. To jest główny punkt odniesienia. Ta prawda, prawda o zmartwychwstaniu ciał, ma ogromne znaczenie dla całego sposobu rozumienia człowieka. Przede wszystkim w rozumieniu stosunku duszy do ciała. Słowa Chrystusa i cała tradycja chrześcijańska przemawiają za tym, że tego stosunku duszy do ciała nie można rozumieć tak, jakby ciało było czymś tylko dodanym do ducha; jest ono z nim zjednoczone – mówiąc językiem filozofii świętego Tomasza – substancjalnie i to zjednoczenie duszy, czyli ducha i ciała, czyli materii, da się potwierdzić w perspektywie życia przyszłego, to znaczy w rzeczwistości zmartwychwstania. Jeżeli wczytujemy się z uwagą w słowa napisane przez Synoptyków, które o tym przyszłym zmartwychwstániu mówią, taka wizja człowieka w świecie przyszłym, to znaczy człowieka w zmartwychwstaniu ciała, otwiera się przed nami.

I pragnę do tego krótkiego streszczenia dodać, jak zwykle, serdeczne pozdrowienia, a ponieważ jesteśmy już w okresie Adwentu – także i życzenia na Boże Narodzenie dla wszystkich, których tutaj reprezentujecie, a jeżeli to możlive, to dla wszystkich w ogóle w Ojczyźnie i na emigracji Polaków.

Ai gruppi italiani

1. Rivolgo altresì un saluto cordiale e beneaugurante alle Suore Oblate al Divino Amore, che hanno a Grottaferrata il Capitolo Generale. Le grandi linee della vostra vocazione religiosa: Adorazione, Riparazione ed Apostolato, vi sospingano ad essere sempre più consapevolmente il cuore della Chiesa, soprattutto mediante la fedele adesione ai più alti ideali evangelici. Con la mia affettuosa Benedizione.

2. Saluto cordialmente i partecipanti al Convegno Nazionale di Studio per Economi di Comunità e Istituzioni Ecclesiastiche e Religiose.

Ho appreso con piacere, figli carissimi, che nel corso dell’incontro avete esaminato i complessi problemi del vostro settore, alla luce anche delle indicazioni contenute nell’Enciclica Laborem Exercens. Nell’esprimere l’augurio che questi giorni di studio vi abbiano offerto utili orientamenti per la vostra delicata attività, a tutti imparto, quale auspicio di copiosi favori celesti, la mia Apostolica Benedizione.

3. Ed ora saluto affettuosamente tutti i Membri del Circo " Moira Orfei " che hanno desiderato farmi visita.

Carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle, voi adempite il compito di offrire un divertimento sano, distensivo, intelligente all’uomo moderno così carico di tensione di problemi. Abbiate tutto il mio incoraggiamento, mentre vi ringrazio per la vostra testimonianza itinerante di attaccamento ai valori morali della famiglia e della collaborazione fraterna. Il Signore vi assista e vi conforti ogni giorno, mentre vi benedico di cuore.

4. Mi rivolgo infine ai giovani, ai novelli Sposi e agli ammalati.

Desidero stavolta salutarli insieme per sottolineare la necessità di quell’amore fraterno, che deve regnare nella Chiesa tra i diversi membri ed i vari gruppi.

L’attesa del Signore sostiene la nostra preghiera in questo periodo di Avvento. Il cristiano è un uomo che attende Cristo, ma questo suo atteggiamento non è passivo né un disinteresse nei confronti del mondo. Camminiamo dunque verso il Signore con animo lieto, senza risparmiarci! Voi, Giovani, affidategli fiduciosi le vostre speranze; voi, Sposi, il vostro amore cristiano e l’impegno di una fedele, reciproca donazione; voi, carissimi Ammalati, offritegli l’oro fino e lucente della vostra sofferenza che, in unione con la sua, è grazia, è salvezza, è gioia per tutta la Comunità dei Fedeli.

Vi benedico tutti di cuore.


1. Cf., e.g.: Habet autem anima alium modum essendi cum unitur corpori, et cum furerit a corpore separata, manente tamen eadem animae natura; non ita quod uniri corpori sit ei accidentale, sed per rationem suae naturae corpori unitur... ["Now the soul has one mode of being when in the body, and another when apart from it, its nature remaining always the same; but this does not mean that its union with the body is an accidental thing, for, on the contrary, such union belongs to its very nature..."] (St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. 1a, q. 89, a. 1 [New York: Benziger, 1947]).

Anima, quandiu est corpori coniuncta, non potest aliquid intelligere non convertendo se ad phantasmata, ut per experimentum patet. Si autem hoc non est ex natura animae, sed per accidens hoc convenit ei ex eo quod corpori alligatur, sicut Platonici posuereunt, de facili quaestio solvi posset. Nam remoto impedimento corporis, rediret anima ad suam naturam, ut intelligeret intelligibilia simpliciter, non convertendo se ad phantasmata, sicut est de aliis substantiis separatis. Sed secundum hoc non esset anima corpori unita propter melius animae, si peius intelligeret corpori unita quam separata; sed hoc esset solum propter melius corporis, quod est irrationabile, cum materia sit propter formam, et non e converso. [The soul united to the body can understand only by turning to the phantasms, as experience shows. Did this not proceed from the soul's very nature, but accidentally through its being bound up with the body, as the Platonists said, the difficulty would vanish; for in that case when the body was once removed, the soul would at once return to its own nature, and would understand intelligible things simply, without turning to the phantasms, as is exemplified in the case of other separate substances. In that case, however, the union of soul and body would not be for the soul's good, for evidently it would understand worse in the body than out of it; but for the good of the body, which would be unreasonable, since matter exists on account of the form, and not the form for the sake of matter] (Ibidem).

Secundum se convenit animae corpori uniri, sicut secundum se convenit corpori levi esse sursum....ita anima humana manet in suo esse cum fuerit a corpore separata, habens aptitudinem et inclinationem naturalem ad corporis unionem. [To be united to the body belongs to the soul by reason of itself, as it belongs to a light body by reason of itself to be raised up.... So the human soul retains its proper existence when separated from the body, having an aptitude and a natural inclination to be united to the body] (Ibidem Ia, q. 76, a. 1, ad 6).

86. To men soma estin hemin sema (Platone, Gorgias 493 A; cf. also Phaedo 66B; Cratylus 400C).

87. Aristotle, De anima, II, 412a, 19-22; cf. also Metaph. 1029, b 11; 1030, b 14.

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