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The Resurrection perfectly realises the person

67 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 9 December 1981 - in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mt 22:30; cf. Mk 12:25). "They are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (Lk 20:36).

Let us try to understand these words of Christ about the future resurrection in order to draw a conclusion with regard to the spiritualization of man, different from that of earthly life. We could speak here also of a perfect system of forces in mutual relations between what is spiritual in man and what is physical. As a result of original sin, historical man experiences a multiple imperfection in this system of forces, which is expressed in St. Paul's well-known words: "I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind" (Rom 7:23).

Eschatological man will be free from that opposition. In the resurrection the body will return to perfect unity and harmony with the spirit. Man will no longer experience the opposition between what is spiritual and what is physical in him. Spiritualization means not only that the spirit will dominate the body, but, I would say, that it will fully permeate the body, and that the forces of the spirit will permeate the energies of the body.

2. In earthly life, the dominion of the spirit over the body—and the simultaneous subordination of the body to the spirit—can, as the result of persevering work on themselves, express a personality that is spiritually mature. However, the fact that the energies of the spirit succeed in dominating the forces of the body does not remove the possibility of their mutual opposition. The spiritualization to which the synoptic Gospels refer in the texts analyzed here (cf. Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35), already lies beyond this possibility. It is therefore a perfect spiritualization, in which the possibility that "another law is at war with the law of...the mind" (cf. Rom 7:23) is completely eliminated. This state which—as is evident—is differentiated essentially (and not only with regard to degree) from what we experience in earthly life, does not signify any disincarnation of the body nor, consequently, a dehumanization of man. On the contrary, it signifies his perfect realization. In fact, in the composite, psychosomatic being which man is, perfection cannot consist in a mutual opposition of spirit and body. But it consists in a deep harmony between them, in safeguarding the primacy of the spirit. In the "other world," this primacy will be realized and will be manifested in a perfect spontaneity, without any opposition on the part of the body. However, that must not be understood as a definitive victory of the spirit over the body. The resurrection will consist in the perfect participation of all that is physical in man in what is spiritual in him. At the same time it will consist in the perfect realization of what is personal in man.

3. The words of the synoptic Gospels testify that the state of man in the other world will not only be a state of perfect spiritualization, but also of fundamental divinization of his humanity. The "sons of the resurrection"—as we read in Luke 20:36—are not only equal to angels, but are also sons of God. The conclusion can be drawn that the degree of spiritualization characteristic of eschatological man will have its source in the degree of his divinization, incomparably superior to the one that can be attained in earthly life. It must be added that here it is a question not only of a different degree, but in a way, of another kind of divinization. Participation in divine nature, participation in the interior life of God himself, penetration and permeation of what is essentially human by what is essentially divine, will then reach its peak, so that the life of the human spirit will arrive at such fullness which previously had been absolutely inaccessible to it. This new spiritualization will therefore be the fruit of grace, that is, of the communication of God in his very divinity, not only to man's soul, but to his whole psychosomatic subjectivity. We speak here of subjectivity (and not only of "nature"), because that divinization is to be understood not only as an interior state of man (that is, of the subject) capable of seeing God face to face, but also as a new formation of the whole personal subjectivity of man in accordance with union with God in his Trinitarian mystery and of intimacy with him in the perfect communion of persons. This intimacy—with all its subjective intensity—will not absorb man's personal subjectivity, but rather will make it stand out to an incomparably greater and fuller extent.

4. Divinization in the other world, as indicated by Christ's words, will bring the human spirit such a range of experience of truth and love such as man would never have been able to attain in earthly life. When Christ speaks of the resurrection, he proves at the same time that the human body will also take part, in its way, in this eschatological experience of truth and love, united with the vision of God face to face. When Christ says that those who take part in the future resurrection "neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mk 12:25), his words—as has already been pointed out—affirm not only the end of earthly history, bound up with marriage and procreation, but also seem to reveal the new meaning of the body. Is it possible, in this case, at the level of biblical eschatology, to think of the discovery of the nuptial meaning of the body, above all as the virginal meaning of being male and female, as regards the body? To answer this question, which emerges from the words reported by the synoptic Gospels, we should penetrate more deeply into the essence of what will be the beatific vision of the divine Being, a vision of God face to face in the future life. It is also necessary to let oneself be guided by that range of experience of truth and love which goes beyond the limits of the cognitive and spiritual possibilities of man in temporality, and in which he will become a participant in the other world.

5. This eschatological experience of the living God will not only concentrate in itself all man's spiritual energies, but, at the same time, it will reveal to him, in a deep and experiential way, the self-communication of God to the whole of creation and, in particular, to man. This is the most personal self-giving by God, in his very divinity, to man: to that being who, from the beginning, bears within himself the image and likeness of God. In this way, in the other world the object of the vision will be that mystery hidden in the Father from eternity, a mystery which in time was revealed in Christ, in order to be accomplished incessantly through the Holy Spirit. That mystery will become, if we may use the expression, the content of the eschatological experience and the form of the entire human existence in the dimension of the other world. Eternal life must be understood in the eschatological sense, that is, as the full and perfect experience of that grace (charis) of God, in which man becomes a participant through faith during earthly life, and which, on the contrary, will not only have to reveal itself in all its penetrating depth to those who take part in the other world, but also will have to be experienced in its beatifying reality.

We suspend here our reflection centered on Christ's words about the future resurrection of the body. In this spiritualization and divinization in which man will participate in the resurrection, we discover—in an eschatological dimension—the same characteristics that qualified the nuptial meaning of the body. We discover them in the meeting with the mystery of the living God, which is revealed through the vision of him face to face"

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

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Je salue tous les pèlerins de langue française qui me font la joie de leur visite et je leur souhaite un fructueux séjour à Rome dans l’attente fervente et suppliante de la nouvelle venue du Sauveur du monde.

Et, en quelques mots, je résume pour eux la méditation que je viens de faire sur l’état futur des ressuscités, qui est notre avenir eschatologique annoncé par le Christ dans les Evangiles synoptiques. Cet état sera la " spiritualisation " de notre être tout entier, l’harmonie enfin réalisée entre l’esprit et le corps. Et cela, sans " désincarnation ", et donc sans " déshumanisation " de la personne humaine. Mieux encore, cet état de résurrection totale, corps et âme, d’ailleurs conforme à la nature de l’homme, sera une certaine " divinisation ", une habitation – jamais expérimentée jusqu’alors à ce point – de notre être par Dieu lui-même. Ce sera le " face à face " de la vision béatifique dont parlent les théologiens. Nous verrons Dieu tel qu’il est... et nous verrons aussi toutes choses en Dieu! Que ce dévoilement de notre avenir eschatologique, assuré par le Seigneur Jésus, nous mette dans la paix et dans l’espérance!

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

I wish to extend a cordial welcome to all the English-speaking visitors who are here today, particularly to the group from South Africa and to the students from the United States. In the Gospels, dear brothers and sisters, Christ speaks to us about the future resurrection of the body; he says that people will neither marry nor be given in marriage at that time. After the Resurrection, the children of God will be like the angels. In reflecting on Christ’s words, in trying to understand them, we come to discover that, at the resurrection, the tension created by original sin will no longer exist. There will be a profound harmony between body and spirit, as well as the total realization and full divinization of humanity. And in the resurrection the human person will encounter God face to face.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Herzlich grüße ich alle anwesenden deutschsprachigen Pilger – unter ihnen heute ganz besonders die Mitglieder des Generalkapitels der Marienschwestern von der Unbefleckten Empfängnis. Möge Maria, eure Ordenspatronin, eure gemeinsamen Beratungen mit ihrem mütterlichen Beistand begleiten und sie für eine Vertiefung des religiösen Lebens in eurer Schwesterngemeinschaft fruchtbar machen.

Unsere Überlegungen zur Theologie des Leibes gelten weiterhin dem Geheimnis der endzeitlichen Auferstehung. Nach den Worten Jesu werden die Menschen nach der Auferstehung nicht mehr heiraten, weil sie "den Engel gleich" und "zu Söhnen Gottes" geworden sind. Während der geschichtliche Mensch in sich einen schmerzlichen Widerstreit zwischen Leib und Geist verspürt, wird im auferstandenen Menschen zwischen den leiblichen und geistigen Kräften eine vollkommene innere Harmonie herrschen. Der ganze Mensch wird vergeistigt werden, wobei die Kräfte des Geistes den Leib völlig durchdringen und bestimmen. Diese Vergeistigung gründet ihrerseits in der gnadenhaften Vergöttlichung des auferstandenen Menschen, in der Gott sich auf unvergleichlich hohe und innige Weise dem Menschen von Angesicht zu Angesicht mitteilen wird. Seien wir uns gerade jetzt in der Adventszeit dieser unserer beglückenden endzeitlichen Berufung voll bewußt! Dazu erteile ich euch allen von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini spagnoli

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Las palabras de Cristo en el sentido de que los resucitados no tomarán mujer ni marido, sino que serán como los ángeles de Dios, indican que tras la resurrección se dará una tal espiritualización del hombre que, superando toda oposición anterior, establecerá una perfecta armonía entre cuerpo y espíritu. Se dará también en el hombre escatológico una divinización, o sea participación más viva en la vida divina que se comunicará a toda la subjetividad del hombre, llamado a una profunda intimidad con Dios. Esto le dará una experiencia de la verdad y del amor como no había podido conseguir sobre la tierra y que tendrá en cambio en la visión de Dios cara a cara.

A todos y cada uno de los presentes de lengua española doy mi saludo y mi cordial Bendición.

* * *

Ai pellegrini portoghesi

Saúdo os ouvintes de língua portuguesa!

Ainda nos fulgores da festa da Imaculada, que ontem solenemente celebramos, tentemos compreender melhor a espiritualização do homem. Pela ressurreição do corpo, o homem ficará liberto da oposição entre o espiritual e o corpóreo, para gozar de uma perfeita harmonia interior. Será sua perfeita realização pessoal.

Ao par da espiritualização, a Bíblia fala também da divinização do homem, que consiste na participação na vida íntima do próprio Deus. Esta divinização há de trazer uma experiência de verdade e de amor que o homem jamais poderia alcançar aqui na terra.

Para que a fé nesta revelação da plenitude do homem em Deus, a exemplo da Virgem Imaculada, vos encha de conforto e coragem na luta do dia a dia, vos dou minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

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 zmartwych, 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 rozumienia 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 z nim zjednoczone w sposób – mówiąc językiem filozofii św. Tomasza – substancjalny. I to zjednoczenie duszy, czyli ducha, i ciała, czyli materii, da się potwierdzić w perspektywie życia przyszłego, to znaczy rzeczywistości zmartwychwstania. Jeżeli wczytujemy się z uwagą w słowa zapisane przez synoptyków, które o tym przyszłym zmartwychwstaniu mówią, taka wizja człowieka w świecie przyszyłm, to znaczy człowieka w zmartwychwstaniu ciała, otwiera się przed nami.

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 możliwe, to dla wszystkich w ogóle Polaków i w Ojczyźnie, i na Emigracji.

A diversi gruppi e pellegrinaggi italiani

Mi è caro rivolgere un saluto cordiale ai molti gruppi di lingua italiana qui presenti.

Di essi menzionano innanzitutto i Diaconi dell’Istituto Teologico " Don Orione ", ordinati appena ieri, e qui venuti con i loro familiari; ad essi auguro una vita di generoso e fruttuoso apostolato al servizio del Vangelo.

Saluto poi i membri del " Movimento parrocchiale dell’Opera di Maria ", provenienti da varie Parrocchie d’Italia e riuniti in questi giorni a Rocca di Papa per meditare sulle parole di Gesù: " Che tutti siano una cosa sola ". Auguro loro un Convegno fecondo di luce e di grazia.

Un particolare saluto va ai numerosi appartenenti all’" Associazione Genitori Scuole Cattoliche " della città di Roma, ed assicuro loro il mio incoraggiamento a proseguire nel loro valido impegno ed a perseguire le finalità che si propongono per il bene delle numerosissime Scuole Cattoliche della mia diletta diocesi.

C’è poi una rappresentanza dell’" Associazione Medici Scrittori Italiani ", convenuti a Roma per la cerimonia dell’assegnazione del loro premio letterario, celebratasi ieri in Campidoglio; mentre li saluto, mi complimento pure con il vincitore e con tutti i concorrenti.

Saluto anche i numerosi uomini dell’Aeronautica Militare, del Centro Scorte di Acquasanta e del Deposito di Torricola; gli Allievi Ufficiali di complemento del 104° corso della Scuola del Genio; e i membri dell’Associazione Nazionale Combattenti della guerra di liberazione, ai quali è unita una rappresentanza dell’analoga associazione polacca. A tutti loro, accompagnati dai Comandanti e dai Cappellani, rivolgo un fervido augurio di pace.

Inoltre mi rivolgo a tutti gli Studenti di diverse Scuole, tra i quali ricordo gli Alunni e gli ex-Alunni del Collegio Nazareno di Roma, il cui Comitato per " L’alunno più buono d’Italia " ha conferito il suo premio annuale; ma tutti paternamente invito ad esserne degni. Con essi saluto tutti i giovani presenti, esortandoli a preparasi al Natale con generosa dedizione in modo che tale Solennità rappresenti per ciascuno un vero incontro con Cristo, Redentore dell’uomo.

Infine, saluto affettuosamente tutti gli ammalati e, come sempre, assicuro loro il mio costante ricordo nella preghiera. A tutti i novelli Sposi porgo poi i miei più fervidi auguri, mentre a tutti imparto la mia cordiale benedizione.

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