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New Threshold of Complete Truth About Man

69 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 13 January 1982 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

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

The words in which Christ refers to the future resurrection—words confirmed in an extraordinary way by his own resurrection—complete what we are accustomed to call in these reflections the revelation of the body. This revelation penetrates the heart of the reality that we experience, and this reality is above all man, his body, the body of historical man. At the same time, this revelation permits us to go beyond the sphere of this experience in two directions—first, in the direction of that beginning which Christ referred to in his conversation with the Pharisees concerning the indissolubility of marriage (cf. Mt 19:3-8); then, in the direction of the future world, to which the Master addressed the hearts of his listeners in the presence of the Sadducees, who "say that there is no resurrection" (Mt 22, 23).

2. Neither the truth about that beginning of which Christ speaks, nor the eschatological truth can be reached by man with empirical and rationalistic methods alone. However, is it not possible to affirm that man bears, in a way, these two dimensions in the depth of the experience of his own being, or rather that he is somehow on his way to them as to dimensions that fully justify the meaning of his being a body, that is, of his being a carnal man? As regards the eschatological dimension, is it not true that death itself and the destruction of the body can confer on man an eloquent significance about the experience in which the personal meaning of existence is realized? When Christ speaks of the future resurrection, his words do not fall in a void. The experience of mankind, and especially the experience of the body, enable the listener to unite with those words the image of his new existence in the "future world," for which earthly experience supplies the substratum and the base. An adequate theological reconstruction is possible.

3. To the construction of this image — which, as regards content, corresponds to the article of our profession of faith: "I believe in the resurrection of the dead"—there greatly contributes the awareness that there exists a connection between earthly experience and the whole dimension of the biblical beginning of man in the world. If at the beginning God "created them male and female" (cf. Gn 1:27); if in this duality concerning the body he envisaged also such a unity that "they become one flesh" (Gn 2:24); if he linked this unity with the blessing of fertility, that is, of procreation (cf. Gn 1:29); if speaking before the Sadducees about the future resurrection, Christ explained that "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage" — then it is clear that it is a question here of a development of the truth about man himself. Christ indicated his identity, although this identity is realized in eschatological experience in a different way from the experience of the beginning itself and of all history. Yet man will always be the same, such as he came from the hands of his Creator and Father. Christ said: "They neither marry nor are given in marriage," but he did not state that this man of the future world will no longer be male and female as he was from the beginning. It is clear therefore that, as regards the body, the meaning of being male or female in the future world must be sought outside marriage and procreation, but there is no reason to seek it outside that which (independently of the blessing of procreation) derives from the mystery of creation and which subsequently forms also the deepest structure of man's history on earth, since this history has been deeply penetrated by the mystery of redemption.

4. In his original situation man, therefore, is alone and at the same time he becomes male and female: unity of the two. In his solitude he is revealed to himself as a person, in order to reveal, at the same time, the communion of persons in the unity of the two. In both states the human being is constituted as an image and likeness of God. From the beginning man is also a body among bodies. In the unity of the couple he becomes male and female, discovering the nuptial meaning of his body as a personal subject. Subsequently, the meaning of being a body and, in particular, being male and female in the body, is connected with marriage and procreation (that is, with fatherhood and motherhood). However, the original and fundamental significance of being a body, as well as being, by reason of the body, male and female—that is precisely that nuptial significance—is united with the fact that man is created as a person and called to a life in communione personarum. Marriage and procreation in itself do not determine definitively the original and fundamental meaning of being a body or of being, as a body, male and female. Marriage and procreation merely give a concrete reality to that meaning in the dimensions of history. The resurrection indicates the end of the historical dimension. The words, "When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mk 12:25), express univocally not only the meaning which the human body will not have in the future world. But they enable us also to deduce that the nuptial meaning of the body in the resurrection to the future life will correspond perfectly both to the fact that man, as a male-female, is a person created in the "image and likeness of God," and to the fact that this image is realized in the communion of persons. That nuptial meaning of being a body will be realized, therefore, as a meaning that is perfectly personal and communitarian at the same time.

5. Speaking of the body glorified through the resurrection to the future life, we have in mind man, male-female, in all the truth of his humanity: man who, together with the eschatological experience of the living God (the face to face vision), will experience precisely this meaning of his own body. This will be a completely new experience. At the same time it will not be alienated in any way from what man took part in from the beginning nor from what, in the historical dimension of his existence, constituted in him the source of the tension between spirit and body, concerning mainly the procreative meaning of the body and sex. The man of the future world will find again in this new experience of his own body precisely the completion of what he bore within himself perennially and historically, in a certain sense, as a heritage and even more as a duty and objective, as the content of the ethical norm.

6. The glorification of the body, as the eschatological fruit of its divinizing spiritualization, will reveal the definitive value of what was to be from the beginning a distinctive sign of the created person in the visible world, as well as a means of mutual communication between persons and a genuine expression of truth and love, for which the communio personarum is constituted. That perennial meaning of the human body, to which the existence of every man, weighed down by the heritage of concupiscence, has necessarily brought a series of limitations, struggles and sufferings, will then be revealed again, and will be revealed in such simplicity and splendor when every participant in the other world will find again in his glorified body the source of the freedom of the gift. The perfect freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:14) will nourish also with that gift each of the communions which will make up the great community of the communion of saints.

7. It is all too clear — on the basis of man's experiences and knowledge in his temporal life, that is, in this world — that it is difficult to construct a fully adequate image of the future world. However, at the same time there is no doubt that, with the help of Christ's words, at least a certain approximation to this image is possible and attainable. We use this theological approximation, professing our faith in the resurrection of the dead and in eternal life, as well as faith in the communion of saints, which belongs to the reality of the future world.

8. Concluding this part of our reflections, it is opportune to state once more that Christ's words reported by the synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35) have a decisive meaning not only as regards the words of Genesis (which Christ referred to on another occasion), but also in what concerns the entire Bible. These words enable us, in a certain sense, to read again—that is, in depth—the whole revealed meaning of the body, the meaning of being a man, that is, a person incarnated, of being male or female as regards the body. These words permit us to understand the meaning, in the eschatological dimension of the other world, of that unity in humanity, which was constituted in the beginning, and which the words of Genesis 2:24, ("A man cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh")—uttered in the act of man's creation as male and female—seemed to direct, if not completely, at least especially toward this world. Since the words of the Book of Genesis are almost the threshold of the whole theology of the body—the threshold which Christ took as his foundation in his teaching on marriage and its indissolubility—then it must be admitted that the words reported by the Synoptics are, as it were, a new threshold of this complete truth about man, which we find in God's revealed Word. It is indispensable to dwell upon this threshold, if we wish our theology of the body—and also our Christian spirituality of the body—to be able to use it as a complete image."

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

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Dans le credo, nous affirmons notre foi dans la communion des saints, dans la résurrection de la chair, dans la vie éternelle. Les brèves paroles de Jésus sur l’état de ceux qui, au-delà de la mort, participeront à sa vie de Ressuscité dans leur propre corps, permettent de compléter la théologie du corps dans ses lignes essentielles. “A la résurrection, on ne prendra ni femme ni mari”. Le monde futur est donc marqué par un seuil vraiment nouveau, puisque le mariage, l’union des deux en une seule chair et la fécondité - qui font partie de l’expérience historique de l’homme selon la volonté du Créateur - n’y ont plus leur raison d’être. Mais en même temps, ce qui caractérise fondamentalement l’homme et la femme dans leur existence corporelle - et cela dans le dessein de Dieu manifesté dès le commencement, comme je l’avais longuement expliqué l’an dernier - demeurera dans la vie éternelle et s’y épanouira même d’une façon sublime, à savoir le fait d’exister avec son sens et sa valeur en soi, comme personne, homme ou femme, créée à la ressemblance de Dieu, et appelée à se réaliser dans la communion des personnes.

A tous les pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française, j’offre mes meilleurs vœux, avec ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai fedeli di espressione inglese

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is with pleasure that I welcome you all. Most of the English speakers at today’s audience come from the United States of America. Others, in particular the Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees, are hoping to go there. I pray God to guide you on your way.

We are all on our way to another homeland, where, as Jesus said, we shall be “equal to angels and sons of God, being sons of the resurrection”. We shall then see clearly how each one of us is a person, created in the image and after the likeness of God, and how we are made for communion with each other. Our bodies will shine with the splendour for which God made them in the beginning.

I would like to give a special greeting to the deacons from the Archdiocese of Chicago, who are here with their families. I pray that you will render generous and faithful service in the ministry to which you have been called, proclaiming by word and deed the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. In his name I bless you all.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Herzlich grüße ich euch: die hier anwesenden Pilger und die die durch das Radio mit uns verbunden sind. Möge dieses neue Jahr für euch alle zu einem Jahr des Heiles werden!

Unsere heutigen Überlegungen schließen an die früheren Darlegungen zur Theologie des Leibes an. Jesus sagt über die endzeitliche Vollendung, daß die Menschen nach der Auferstehung nicht mehr heiraten, sondern wie die Engel im Himmel sein werden (Cfr. Marc. 12, 25). Dieses Offenbarungswort Christi unterstreicht zugleich die Verschiedenheit der Existenzweise des Menschen in der Geschichte und in der kommenden Welt. Der Mensch wird als Mann und Frau auferstehen, jedoch nicht mehr in Ehe und Zeugung die entsprechende leiblich-personale Erfüllung finden. Die bräutliche Berufung des Leibes, die schon am Schöpfungsanfang grundgelegt ist, kommt im auferstandenen Menschen zur vollen Entfaltung. Der Mensch, der als ”Gottes Bild und Gleichnis“ geschaffen worden ist, findet allein in der personalen Gemeinschaft mit Gott seine letzte Vollendung.

Seien wir uns stets der hohen Würde unserer Berufung bewußt. Dazu erteile ich euch allen von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

En esta audiencia, primera del año, al saludar a todos los aquí presentes de lengua española procedentes de varios Países, os deseo que la nueva etapa que empezamos sea muy fecunda en obras de bien y en un mayor acercamiento al Señor. Así lo pido para todos.

En mi alocución en italiano he hablado de las palabras de Jesús alusivas al hecho de que los resucitados no tomarán mujer ni marido, sino que serán como los ángeles de Dios. Esa enseñanza nos muestra la realidad en la que el hombre se encontrará en el mundo futuro, terminada su existencia histórica. Creado a imagen y semejanza de Dios, el hombre se hallará con su cuerpo glorificado, contemplado a Dios cara a cara, en una comunión mucho más perfecta con los otros hombres. Es esa la realidad que profesamos al confesar en el credo: creo en la resurrección de los muertos, en la comunión de los Santos y en la vida eterna.

Ai fedeli portoghesi

Saúdo cordialmente os peregrinos e ouvintes de língua portuguesa.

Reflectimos sobre o sentido do corpo humano. “No princípio”, o primeiro homem aparece só, criado à imagem e semelhança de Deus, como ser pessoal, com o seu corpo, entre outros corpos, no mundo visível; depois, criada a mulher, na sua união com ela, manifesta-se como ser comunitário e no seu corpo revela-se o “sentido esponsal”.

No futuro, para além da história e do tempo, no homem, destinado à ressurreição, manifestar-se-á em plenitude o valor primeiro e definitivo do ser do seu corpo: corpo de uma pessoa, meio de comunhão e de amor entre pessoas. A profissão de Fé tenta aproximar-nos a tal imagem do homem, no futuro escatológico: após a ressurreição dos mortos, há a vida eterna e a comunhão dos santos, no mundo que há-de vir.

Para que tais verdades iluminem a vossa vida presente e encham de esperança os vossos corações, dou-vos a Bênção Apostólica.

Ai polacchi

W dniu 3 stycznia został odczytany w Polsce list na sześćsetlecie Obrazu Jasnogórskiego.

Ten list, który napisałem w uroczystość Niepokalanego Poczęcia, pragnę kontynuować.

Pragnę to czynić w formie modlitwy do Matki Kościoła i Matki mojego Narodu - modlitwy odmawianej fragment po fragmencie w czasie naszych spotkań audiencji środowych.

W tych audiencjach od początku brali zawsze udział pielgrzymi z Polski - i odzywał się nasz ojczysty język.

Obecnie, na skutek nieszczęsnego “stanu wojennego”, który trwa już miesiąc, dostęp do Rzymu został moim Rodakom uniemożliwiony.

Moralnie nie przestają tutaj być obecni. Ich brak wyczuwają uczestnicy audiencji z innych narodów. W ich nieobecności widzą ograniczenie i naruszenie prawa, jakie przysługuje wszędzie wolnym ludziom.

Dlatego - jak w każdą środę - i dziś również przemawiam po polsku. Słowom moim nadaję formę modlitwy skierowanej do Ciebie, Pani Jasnogórska. Poprzez Ciebie bowiem - i wobec Ciebie - spotykamy się wszyscy, nawet gdy jesteśmy rozdzieleni odległościami, granicami, murami obozów czy więzień. Nieraz tak bywało w ciągu dziejów. Nieraz też sprawdziło się to i potwierdziło, że wobec Ciebie, nasza Matko i Królowo, jesteśmy wzajemnie obecni.

I oto w roku Twego Sześćsetlecia - i naszego jubileuszu - jeszcze raz wypada nam tego doświadczyć: wszystkim moim Rodakom w Ojczyźnie - i mnie, synowi tej samej Ziemi, który jest Biskupem Rzymu.

Jako pierwczy dar Sześćsetlecia ofiarujemy Ci to doświadczenie. Polecamy również Tobie, miłosierna Matko, tych wszystkich, którzy w ciągu ostatnich dni cierpią dotkliwie w naszej Ojczyźnie na skutek powodzi, oraz tych, którzy nie szczędą wysiłków, aby zaradzić tej straszliwej klęsce żywiołowej.

Ed ecco il discorso del Papa in una nostra traduzione italiana

Il 3 gennaio corrente è stata letta in Polonia la mia lettera per il seicentesimo anniversario della Madonna di Jasna Góra.

Desidero ora continuare tale lettera, che ho scritto nella solennità dell’Immacolata Concezione.

Desidero farlo in forma di preghiera alla Madre della Chiesa e alla Madre della mia Nazione; preghiera di cui reciteremo un brano dopo l’altro durante i nostri incontri, le udienze del mercoledì.

A queste Udienze Generali hanno partecipato sempre alcuni pellegrini provenienti dalla Polonia, e in esse pertanto si sentiva la nostra lingua madre.

Ora, a causa del deplorevole “stato di assedio”, che dura già da un mese, la venuta a Roma è stata resa impossibile ai miei connazionali.

Tuttavia essi non cessano di essere moralmente qui presenti. I partecipanti alle Udienze delle altre nazioni sentono la loro assenza. E in questa assenza vedono la limitazione e la violazione dei diritti che spettano agli uomini liberi.

Perciò - come ogni mercoledì - anche oggi parlo in polacco. Alle mie parole do forma di preghiera indirizzata a lei, Signora di Jasna Góra. Infatti attraverso te - e dinanzi a te - ci incontriamo tutti anche quando siamo separati dalla distanza, dalle frontiere, dai muri dei campi e delle carceri. Più di una volta fu così nel corso della storia. E più di una volta si è verificato e riconfermato che dinanzi a te, nostra Madre e Regina, siamo vicendevolmente presenti.

Ed ecco nell’anno del tuo 600° anniversario - e nostro giubileo - ancora una volta capita a noi di fare questa esperienza: a tutti i miei connazionali nella patria e a me, figlio della stessa Terra e Vescovo di Roma.

Come il primo dono del VI Centenario ti offriamo questa esperienza. A te Madre misericordiosa, affidiamo anche tutti coloro che in questi giorni soffrono dolorosamente nella nostra patria a causa dell’alluvione, e coloro che, non risparmiando sforzi, si prodigano per portare rimedio a questa spaventosa calamità.

Ai gruppi italiani

Rivolgo ora un saluto particolare ai pellegrini della parrocchia dell’Immacolata, in diocesi di Molfetta, i quali, insieme al loro Parroco, sono qui convenuti, nell’ottantesimo anniversario della fondazione della propria Associazione “Madonna di Lourdes”, per far benedire dal Papa la statua della Madonna, che farà poi il giro delle famiglie della parrocchia, in devota “peregrinatio”.

Mentre vi esprimo il mio compiacimento per questa vostra iniziativa, volentieri aderisco al vostro desiderio di benedire l’immagine della Vergine santissima, esortandovi a riporre la vostra fiducia in lei, la quale, essendo Madre ed Avvocata, non mancherà di assistervi e di proteggervi nelle vostre necessità materiali e spirituali.

* * *

Saluto anche i giovani e le giovani qui presenti: il Signore accresca sempre più la vostra gioia e vi faccia progredire nel suo amore, nella sua pace e nella sua speranza: altrettanti valori questi di cui il mondo ha tanto bisogno e che aspetta da voi, che rappresentate le forze più sane e più disponibili verso il vero bene della Chiesa e della società.

* * *

Agli ammalati qui presenti e a quelli che sono nelle corsie degli ospedali, nelle case di cura e nelle famiglie dico: non sentitevi mai soli, perché il Signore è con voi e non vi abbandona mai. Siate coraggiosi e forti: unite i vostri dolori e le vostre sofferenze a quelli del Crocifisso e diventerete corredentori dell’umanità, insieme al Cristo. Il Papa è con voi e vi ricorda sempre nella preghiera,

* * *

Un pensiero beneaugurante va pure agli sposi novelli, che hanno da poco iniziato una nuova vita sotto il segno sacramentale della grazia di Dio. Carissimi sposi, abbiate sempre davanti alla vostra coscienza il senso cristiano della famiglia, che ho recentemente ricordato nella esortazione Familiaris Consortio: tale concezione della vita familiare vi riempirà di gioia e vi darà la forza di superare ogni ostacolo. Vi accompagni la mia benedizione.

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