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The Resurrection is the high point of revelation

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 8 March 1989 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians, several times quoted during the course of these reflections on Christ's resurrection, we read: "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). Evidently St. Paul saw the resurrection as the basis of the Christian faith. He saw it as the keystone of the entire edifice of doctrine and life built up on revelation, inasmuch as it is the definitive confirmation of the whole ensemble of truth taught by Christ. Hence all the Church's preaching, from apostolic times down the centuries and spanning the generations even to the present day, makes its appeal to the resurrection. It draws from it its driving and persuasive force and its vigor. It is easy to understand why.

2. The resurrection was first of all the confirmation of all that Christ had "done and taught." It was the divine seal stamped on his words and life. He himself had indicated to his disciples and adversaries this definitive sign of his truth. On the first Easter the angel told the women at the empty tomb: "He has risen as he said" (Mt 28:6). If this word and promise of his are revealed as true, then all his other words and promises possess the power of truth that does not pass away, as he himself had proclaimed: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mt 24:35; cf. Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33). No stronger, more decisive and more authoritative proof than the resurrection from the dead could have been imagined or asked for. All the truths, including those most impenetrable to the human mind, find their justification, even from the rational point of view, in the fact that the risen Christ gave the definitive proof, promised beforehand, of his divine authority.

3. Thus the truth of Christ's divinity itself is confirmed by the resurrection. Jesus had said: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I Am" (Jn 8:28). Those who heard these words wanted to stone Jesus, because for the Jews the words "I Am" were the equivalent of the unspeakable name of God. In fact, when asking Pilate to condemn Jesus to death, they presented as the principal charge that he had "made himself the Son of God" (Jn 19:7). For this reason the Sanhedrin had condemned him as guilty of blasphemy. In reply to the high priest's question, Jesus had declared that he was the Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mt 26:63-65; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:70), that is to say, not merely the earthly Messiah as understood and awaited by Jewish tradition, but the Messiah-Lord announced by Psalm 110 (cf. Mt 22:41 ff.), the mysterious personage perceived by Daniel (cf. 7:13-14). This was the great blasphemy and the charge for the death sentence: that he had proclaimed himself the Son of God! Jesus' resurrection confirms the truth of his divine identity, and justifies the self-attribution of the "name" of God which he made before the Pasch: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am" (Jn 8:58). For the Jews this was a claim punishable by stoning (cf. Lev 24:16). "They took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple" (Jn 8:59). If they had not then been able to stone him, they later succeeded in "lifting him up" on the cross. The resurrection of the crucified proved that he was really I Am, the Son of God.

4. In actual fact, Jesus, while calling himself Son of Man, had not only asserted that he was truly the Son of God. But in the upper room, before the passion, he had also prayed the Father to reveal that the Christ-Son of Man was his eternal Son: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you" (Jn 17:1). "Glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made" (Jn 17:5). The paschal mystery was the answer to this prayer, the confirmation of Christ's divine sonship, and indeed his glorification with that glory which he "had with the Father before the world was made": the glory of the Son of God.

5. According to John's Gospel Jesus, in the prepashcal period, had on several occasions alluded to this future glory which would be manifested in his death and resurrection. Only after the event did the disciples understand the meaning of those words of his.

Thus we read that during his first Pasch at Jerusalem, after having driven the merchants and money-changers out of the temple, Jesus replied to the Jews who had asked him for a sign of his authority for doing as he had done: "'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up....' But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken" (Jn 2:19-22).

Moreover, Jesus' reply to those sent by the sisters of Lazarus who besought him to come to visit their brother who was ill, referred to the paschal events: "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it" (Jn 11:4).

It was not merely the glory which he could acquire from the miracle, all the more so since it would have been a contributory cause of his death (cf. Jn 11:46-54). His real glorification would have come precisely from his being raised up on the cross (cf. Jn 12:32). The disciples had a clear understanding of all this after the resurrection.

6. Particularly interesting is St. Paul's teaching on the value of the resurrection as the determinant element of his Christological concept, linked also to his personal experience of the risen one. Thus at the beginning of his Letter to the Romans he writes: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the Gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh, and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1:1-4).

This means that from the very first moment of his human conception and birth (descended from David), Jesus was the eternal Son of God become Son of Man. In the resurrection this divine sonship was manifested in all its fullness through the power of God. God restored Jesus to life by the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:11) and constituted him in the glorious state of kyrios (cf. Phil 2:9-11; Rom 14:9; Acts 2:36). Jesus merited under a new, messianic title the recognition, worship and glory of the eternal name of Son of God (cf. Acts 13:33; Heb 1:1-5; 5:5).

7. Paul had expounded this same doctrine in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia on the sabbath day. At the invitation of the leaders of the synagogue, he spoke to announce that as the high point of the economy of salvation, effected between the lights and shadows of the history of Israel, God had raised up Jesus from the dead. For many days Jesus had appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem and these were now his witnesses to the people. "And we," the Apostle concluded, "bring you the good news that what God promised to our fathers, he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm: 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you'"(Acts 13:32-34: cf. Ps 2:7).

For Paul there is an assimilation of ideas between the glory of Christ's resurrection and Christ's eternal divine sonship, which is fully revealed in that victorious conclusion of his messianic mission.

8. This glory of "Kyrios" manifests that power of the risen one (Man-God) whom Paul had known by personal experience at the moment of his conversion on the road to Damascus. Then he too heard himself called to be an apostle (though not one of the Twelve), inasmuch as he was an eye-witness of the living Christ. Paul received from him the power to face all the toil and bear all the suffering of his mission. Paul's spirit was so marked by that experience that in his teaching and witness he gave precedence to the idea of the power of the risen one over that of sharing in Christ's sufferings, which was also dear to him. That which he had verified in his personal experience he proposed to the faithful as a rule of thought and a norm of life: "Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my order that I may gain Christ and be found in that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3:8-11). At this point his thought turned to his experience on the road to Damascus: "...because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Phil 3:12).

9. As appears from the texts quoted, Christ's resurrection is closely connected with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. It is its fulfillment, according to God's eternal plan. Rather, it is the supreme crowning of all that Jesus had revealed and wrought throughout his whole life, from his birth to his passion and death, by his deeds, miracles, teaching, example of perfect holiness and above all by his transfiguration. He had never revealed directly the glory which he had with the Father "before the world was made" (Jn 17:5), but he concealed this glory in his humanity until the definitive emptying of himself (cf. Phil 2:7-8) through his death on the cross.

The resurrection reveals the fact that "in Christ the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily" (Col 1:19). Thus the resurrection completes the manifestation of the content of the Incarnation. It can therefore be said that it is also the fullness of revelation. It stands therefore, as we have said, at the center of the Christian faith and of the Church's preaching.


After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese 

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

JE SUIS HEUREUX de saluer les groupes internationaux de religieuses qui sont venus aujourd’hui, en particulier les Sœurs de Saint-Paul de Chartres, les Franciscaines Missionnaires de Marie, les Missionnaires du Cœur Immaculé de Marie; je les remercie de travailler ardemment à répandre la Bonne Nouvelle du Christ dans tant de pays différents et je demande à Notre-Dame de soutenir leur généreux apostolat.

* * * 

J’ADRESSE un cordial salut aux membres du Séminaire français de Rome. Votre visite annuelle m’est très agréable. Je remercie chacun d’entre vous, ainsi que votre Supérieur et vos Directeurs spirituels. Déjà ordonnés au ministère presbytéral ou vous y préparant, continuez de vous laisser saisir par le Christ, à la manière de l’Apôtre Paul. Brûlez du désir de vous consacrer aux tâches pastorales que vos évêques vous confieront. Cette motivation, au-delà de vos études sérieusement effectuées, doit habiter tout votre être. Certes, le monde présent peut paraître s’éloigner de l’Eglise et même de l’Evangile. Poutant, n’ayez pas peur de votre mission, le Seigneur vous guidera sur la route.

A vous tous, pèlerins de langue française ici présents, je souhaite un fervent Carême, une Semaine Sainte très recueillie et une radieuse célébration de Pâques. Je vous bénis de tout cœur. 

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I AM PLEASED to welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, in particular the “World Brotherhood Choir”, the group of young people from Denmark, and the Italian Chapter of the National Catholic Women’s Association. I pray that this Lenten season will be a time of spiritual renewal for each of us as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Death and Resurrection.

To all of you and your loved ones I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

A un gruppo di studenti di musica giapponesi 

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

SANT’AGOSTINO afferma: “Chi canta prega due volte”. Carissimi studenti di musica di Hiroshima, la città devastata dalla bomba atomica, continuate a cantare sempre per la pace del mondo.

Con questo auspicio vi benedico volentieri.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! 

Ai numerosissimi pellegrini di lingua tedesca 

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

MIT DIESER KURZEN Betrachtung grüße ich euch, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, zur heutigen Audienz. Unter den Anwesenden grüße ich namentlich die Gruppe von Priestern und Diakonen aus Bendorf sowie die Studenten des Seminars für katholische Theologie der Freien Universität Berlin. Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich ferner an die Ordensschwestern verschiedener Kongregationen, die z. Z. an einem theologischen Kurs am Päpstlichen Institut”Regina Mundi“teilnehmen. Euch, den Theologiestudenten, Priestern und Ordensfrauen empfehle ich in einer besonderen Weise unsere heutigen österlichen Überlegungen. Seid ihr doch besonders dazu berufen. Zeugen von der Auferstehung und der göttlichen Heilssendung Christi zu sein. Ich wünsche und erbitte euch durch eure theologischen Studien, in Gebet und Betrachtung eine persönliche Begegnung mit dem auferstandenen Herrn, der noch heute in seiner Kirche fortlebt. Laßt euch von ihm im Glauben neu erfassen, euer Herz in Liebe entzünden und neu aussenden als seine Boten, als Zeugen seiner Auferstehung, in der er als unser Erlöser Sünde und Tod endgültig besiegt und auch uns zur Teilnahme an seinem nie endenden göttlichen Leben berufen hat.

Euch und allen anwesenden Pilgern deutscher Sprache erbitte ich eine gnadenreiche vorösterliche Bußzeit als Vorbereitung auf das Fest der Auferstehung unseres Herrn und erteile euch allen von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua castigliana 

Amadisímos hermanos y hermanas,

SALUDO CORDIALMENTE a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española. En particular, al grupo de religiosas Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, que se preparan en Roma a su profesión perpetua, y a la Asociación Cristiana de Viudas, de Burgos.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica. 

Ad un gruppo di fedeli brasiliani 

Amados irmãos e irmãs de língue portuguesa

SÁUDO OS PEREGRINOS e visitantes e quantos me escutam i mormente os Brasileiros vindos do Rio e de São Paulo - com votos de felicidade, graça e paz na caminhada quaresmal, à luz pascal de Cristo ressuscitado.

Ai fedeli polacchi 

WITAM PIELGRZYMÓW Z POLSKI: w szczególności grupę z IX Liceum Ogólnokształcącego z Poznania - grupa ta przebywa w Bergamo na zaproszenie Liceo Scientifico Statale Lorenzo Mascheroni: prócz tego grupę kolejarzy z Warszawy; grupę marynarzy ze statku „Sonia” ze Szczecina; uczestników grup turystycznych Orbisu, Turysty, PKS z Warszawy, grupę „Traveler” z Gdańska oraz wszystkich innych obecnych pielgrzymów indywidualnych z kraju i z emigracji . . .Wszystkim obecnym Rodakom życzę błogosławieństwa Bozego w Wielkim Poście i na Wielkanoc.

Ai numerosi gruppi di lingua italiana 

DESIDERO ORA porgere il mio saluto al qualificato gruppo di donne italiane qui presenti insieme col Ministro per gli Affari Sociali del Governo Italiano, Senatrice Rosa Jervolino Russo: sia alle aderenti alla Democrazia Cristiana, sia a quelle che sono impegnate nelle attività sociali e nei vari movimenti di ispirazione cristiana.

Saluto con loro anche il gruppo del Movimento Femminile della Confederazione Nazionale dei Coltivatori Diretti di Pisa.

Vi ringrazio per la visita, in questa Festa Internazionale della Donna.

A voi e per mezzo vostro a tutte le donne rivolgo l’augurio che sempre più si comprenda e si valorizzi il contributo indispensabile della donna nell’edificazione della società e della Chiesa. La presenza attiva delle donne nelle strutture della vita politica e sociale di ogni Paese è certamente un “segno dei tempi”: possa ad essa accompagnarsi l’impegno di tutti per la difesa e la promozione della dignità della donna, della sua uguaglianza, in quanto persona umana, con l’uomo, dei suoi inalienabili diritti. Il riconoscimento della sublime vocazione della donna nella comunità civile ed in quella ecclesiale è una conquista che deve favorire una più larga partecipazione delle donne allo sviluppo del bene comune, affinché sia sempre meglio apprezzato lo specifico carisma femminile e la sua importanza per l’avvento di un mondo nel quale sia pienamente accolta la poliedrica ricchezza dell’essere umano, quale uscì dalle mani di Dio nel mattino della creazione. 

* * * 

IL MIO PENSIERO va poi al Signor Ministro dei Lavori Pubblici del Governo Italiano, l’Onorevole Enrico Ferri, qui presente con il Presidente dell’Automobil Club di Italia, Avvocato Rosario Alessi, e numerosi componenti dell’Azienda Nazionale Autonoma delle Strade, il Direttore dell’ACI-Soccorso Stradale, il gruppo dei Cantonieri, e, infine, i rappresentanti dei Carabinieri e della Polizia Stradale.

A voi tutti un cordiale saluto e il vivo apprezzamento per il contributo che offrite al buon funzionamento della viabilità pubblica, e per il servizio che svolgete a tutela di tutti gli utenti della strada.

Desidero approfittare di questa circostanza per ribadire il principio morale che vi sta tanto a cuore, e che dovrebbe essere argomento di riflessione per tutti coloro che usano delle strade: il rispetto della vita umana. Esso è simultaneamente istanza di ordine religioso, giacché la vita è dono prezioso di Dio. Proteggere la vita, non esponendola a rischi sconsiderati è un dovere grave, strettamente connesso con la condotta corretta e prudente di quanti adoperano i mezzi moderni di trasporto. Di questa condotta ogni uomo dovrà rispondere anche di fronte a Dio: non solo per le azioni azzardate che mettono a repentaglio la vita propria ed altrui, ma anche per le omissioni che, trascurando le norme di sicurezza stradale, sono vere e proprie condizioni previe per gli incidenti.

Vi esorto pertanto a compiere ogni sforzo perché la coscienza del corretto rapporto tra persone e del rispetto dovuto alla vita si sviluppi sempre di più, a partire dalla educazione dei ragazzi e dei giovani. Fate di tutto perché si consideri opportunamente che gli incidenti mortali non sono soltanto dovuti al caso, ma molto più spesso nascono dalla responsabilità personale. Fate in modo che si sviluppi un comportamento sempre più scrupoloso nel rispetto delle norme della circolazione, che, nel loro insieme, non corrispondono a doveri soltanto giuridici, ma anche e soprattutto morali e religiosi. La violenza deve essere sempre condannata, anche quando si manifesta nella conduzione del mezzo meccanico, trasformato in strumento di distruzione e di morte. 

* * * 

DESIDERO ANCHE porgere un cordiale saluto ai familiari, qui presenti, degli operatori del soccorso stradale, dei cantonieri, della polizia e dei carabinieri caduti nel compimento del loro dovere.

* * * 

UN SALUTO, INFINE, alle Superiore e Direttrici della Federazione Italiana Religiose dell’Assistenza Sociale ed alle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice presenti in Roma per un corso di aggiornamento.

A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica, estensibile alle persone care. 

Ai giovani, agli ammalati, agli sposi novelli 

Mi rivolgo ora a voi, giovani, ammalati, e sposi novelli con un cordiale saluto e con un grazie per la vostra presenza.

AI GIOVANI AUGURO di vivere con saggezza questi loro anni preziosi e decisivi. Invito i malati, specialmente in questo scorcio della santa Quaresima, a unire le loro croci alla Croce di Gesù, perché la loro sofferenza sia addolcita, santificata e diventi fonte di incalcolabile merito. Raccomando, infine, agli sposi novelli di fondare il loro reciproco amore sulla stima, sulla fiducia, sul rispetto, facendosi guidare dalla fede in Dio e dalla fiducia nella sua Madre Santissima.

Per tutti invoco il sostegno della grazia divina, e tutti con affetto vi benedico, come benedico quanti a voi sono cari. 

Un augurio a tutte le donne è rivolto dal Papa nel corso dell’udienza generale di oggi, mercoledì 8 marzo, giorno in cui si celebra la Festa Internazionale della Donna. Destinatarie dirette dell’augurio sono le componenti di un gruppo di donne italiane impegnate nella vita politica, nelle attività sociali e nei movimenti di ispirazione cristiana, presenti all’udienza con il Ministro per gli Affari Sociali del Governo Italiano, Senatrice Rosa Jervolino Russo. Tramite loro, l’augurio è esteso a tutte le donne.
Queste le parole del Santo Padre. 

A voi e per mezzo vostro a tutte le donne rivolgo l’augurio che sempre più si comprenda e si valorizzi il contributo indispensabile della donna nell’edificazione della società e della Chiesa. La presenza attiva delle donne nelle strutture della vita pubblica e sociale di ogni Paese è certamente un “segno dei tempi”: possa ad essa accompagnarsi l’impegno di tutti per la difesa e la promozione della dignità della donna, della sua uguaglianza, in quanto persona umana, con l’uomo, dei suoi inalienabili diritti. Il riconoscimento della sublime vocazione della donna nella comunità civile ed in quella ecclesiale è una conquista che deve favorire una più larga partecipazione delle donne allo sviluppo del bene comune, affinché sia sempre meglio apprezzato lo specifico carisma femminile e la sua importanza per l’avvento di un mondo nel quale sia pienamente accolta la poliedrica ricchezza dell’essere umano, quale uscì dalle mani di Dio nel mattino della creazione.

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