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The Risen Body Will Be Incorruptible, Glorious,
Full of Dynamism, and Spiritual

71 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 3 February 1982 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. From the words of Christ on the future resurrection of the body, reported by all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), we have passed to the Pauline anthropology of the resurrection. We are analyzing the First Letter to the Corinthians 15:42-49.

In the resurrection the human body, according to the words of the Apostle, is seen "incorruptible, glorious, full of dynamism, spiritual." The resurrection is not only a manifestation of the life that conquers death—almost a final return to the tree of life, from which man had been separated at the moment of original sin—but is also a revelation of the ultimate destiny of man in all the fullness of his psychosomatic nature and his personal subjectivity. Paul of Tarsus—who following in the footsteps of the other apostles,  had experienced in his meeting with the risen Christ the state of his glorified body—basing himself on this experience, Paul announces in his Letter to the Romans "the redemption of the body" (Rom 8:23) and in his Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:42-49) the completion of this redemption in the future resurrection.

2. The literary method Paul applies here perfectly corresponds to his style, which uses antitheses that simultaneously bring together those things which they contrast. In this way they are useful in having us understand Pauline thought about the resurrection. It concerns both its "cosmic" dimension and also the characteristic of the internal structure of the "earthly" and the "heavenly" man. The Apostle, in fact, in contrasting Adam and Christ (risen)—that is, the first Adam with the second Adam—in a certain way shows two poles between which, in the mystery of creation and redemption, man has been placed in the cosmos. One could say that man has been put in tension between these two poles in the perspective of his eternal destiny regarding, from beginning to end, his human nature itself. When Paul writes: "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven" (1 Cor 15:47), he has in mind both Adam-man and also Christ as man. Between these two poles—between the first and the second Adam—the process takes place that he expresses in the following words: "As we have borne the image of the man of earth, so we will bear the image of the man of heaven" (1 Cor 15:49).

3. This "man of heaven"—the man of the resurrection whose prototype is the risen Christ—is not so much an antithesis and negation of the "man of earth" (whose prototype is the first Adam), but is above all his completion and confirmation. It is the completion and confirmation of what corresponds to the psychosomatic makeup of humanity, in the sphere of his eternal destiny, that is, in the thought and the plan of him who from the beginning created man in his own image and likeness. The humanity of the first Adam, the "man of earth," bears in itself a particular potential (which is a capacity and readiness) to receive all that became the second Adam, the man of heaven, namely, Christ, what he became in his resurrection. That humanity which all men, children of the first Adam, share, and which, along with the heritage of sin—being carnal—at the same time is corruptible, and bears in itself the potentiality of incorruptibility.

That humanity which, in all its psychosomatic makeup appears ignoble, and yet bears within itself the interior desire for glory, that is, the tendency and the capacity to become "glorious" in the image of the risen Christ. Finally, the same humanity about which the Apostle—in conformity with the experience of all men—says that it is "weak" and has an "animal body," bears in itself the aspiration to become full of dynamism and spiritual.

4. We are speaking here of human nature in its integrity, that is, of human nature in its psychosomatic makeup. However, Paul speaks of the body. Nevertheless we can admit, on the basis of the immediate context and the remote one, that for him it is not a question only of the body, but of the entire man in his corporeity, therefore also of his ontological complexity. There is no doubt here that precisely in the whole visible world (cosmos) that one body which is the human body bears in itself the potentiality for resurrection, that is, the aspiration and capacity to become definitively incorruptible, glorious, full of dynamism, spiritual. This happens because, persisting from the beginning in the psychosomatic unity of the personal being, he can receive and reproduce in this earthly image and likeness of God also the heavenly image of the second Adam, Christ. The Pauline anthropology of the resurrection is cosmic and universal at the same time. Every man bears in himself the image of Adam and every man is also called to bear in himself the image of Christ, the image of the risen one. This image is the reality of the "other world," the eschatological reality (St. Paul writes, "We will bear"). But in the meantime it is already in a certain way a reality of this world, since it was revealed in this world through the resurrection of Christ. It is a reality ingrafted in the man of this world, a reality that is developing in him toward final completion.

5. All the antitheses that are suggested in Paul's text help to construct a valid sketch of the anthropology of the resurrection. This sketch is at the same time more detailed than the one which comes from the text of the synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35). But on the other hand it is in a certain sense more unilateral. The words of Christ which the synoptics report open before us the perspective of the eschatological perfection of the body, fully subject to the divinizing profundity of the vision of God face to face. In that vision it will find its inexhaustible source of perpetual virginity (united to the nuptial meaning of the body), and of the perpetual intersubjectivity of all men, who will become (as males and females) sharers in the resurrection. The Pauline sketch of the eschatological perfection of the glorified body seems to remain rather in the sphere of the interior structure of the man-person. His interpretation of the future resurrection would seem to link up again with body-spirit dualism which constitutes the source of the interior system of forces in man.

6. This system of forces will undergo a radical change in the resurrection. Paul's words, which explicitly suggest this, cannot however be understood or interpreted in the spirit of dualistic anthropology, (1) which we will try to show in the continuation of our analysis. In fact, it will be suitable to dedicate yet another reflection to the anthropology of the resurrection in the light of the First Letter to the Corinthians."

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

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

J’ai continué aujourd’hui à méditer sur la perspective de la résurrection, selon la lettre de Saint Paul aux Corinthiens. L’apôtre oppose l’état du premier Adam, celui qui vient de la terre, à l’état du second Adam, celui qui vient du Ciel, soit le Christ ressuscité. L’état du ressuscité n’est pas simplement un triomphe sur la mort, mais un accomplissement et une confirmation: l’homme terrestre portait déjà dans son corps, c’est-à-dire dans sa nature humaine tout entière, cette capacité de devenir incorruptible, glorieux, plein de force et spirituel, dans le face à face avec Dieu. Pour Saint Paul, le système de forces soumettant l’esprit au corps subit un changement radical dans la résurrection. Ainsi se précise l’anthropologie sous-jacente à ce grand mystère.

* * *

Il m'est agréable, au cours de cette rencontre, de pouvoir adresser un salut affectueux à toutes les personnes de langue française, et, en particulier, à un groupe d’élèves architectes venus admirer à Rome les œuvres de leurs devanciers. A vous tous, je souhaite un bon séjour, je vous bénis de grand cœur, sans oublier ceux qui vous sont chers, spécialement les enfants, les malades et les vieillards!

Ai fedeli di lingua inglese

Dear brothers and sisters,

My cordial greetings go to all of you, the English-speaking visitors, especially from the United States. We have been speaking about the future resurrection of the dead. From Christ’s words, as recorded in the Gospels, we have passed over to the explanation given by Saint Paul. He describes the body at the resurrection as being: incorruptible, glorious, full of dynamism and spiritual. For Saint Paul the resurrection is not only a manifestation of the life that conquers death, but also a revelation of the fullness of man’s nature. Saint Paul contrasts the first Adam and the new Adam, who is the risen Christ. Every man bears within himself the image of Adam, and every man is called to bear the image of the risen Christ. And this latter image is the reality of the world to come.

* * *

A special welcome goes to the officers and men of the United States Navy stationed aboard the USS Eisenhower. Through you I send my greetings to your families and loved ones at home; I pray that God’s peace may fill your hearts. Thank you for your visit.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Herzlich willkommen zu dieser Audienz im Vatikan. Ich grüße heute besonders die zahlreichen Pilgergruppen aus Österreich: aus der Erzdiözese Wien und den Diözesen Eisenstadt und Sankt Pölten. Von Herzen wünsche und erbitte ich euch allen gnadenreiche Tage in der Ewigen Stadt.

In unseren allgemeinen Überlegungen betrachten wir zur Zeit die Lehre des hl. Paulus über die Auferstehung. Er bezeichnet im 1. Korintherbrief den von den Toten auferweckten Leib als ”unverweslich, herrlich, stark und überirdisch“. Die Erlösung des menschlichen Leibes durch Christus findet in der künftigen Auferstehung ihre endgültige Vollendung. Das Schicksal des Menschen erstreckt und verwirklicht sich zwischen der Bestimmung des ersten Adam, der von der Erde stammt, und der Berufung Christi, des Auferstandenen, der vom Himmel kommt. Deshalb verheißt uns der Apostel: ”Wie wir das Bild des Irdischen getragen haben, so werden wir auch das Bild des Himmlischen tragen“ (1 Cor. 15, 49). Schon jetzt ist das Bild des Auferstandenen und die Bestimmung zur eigenen künftigen Auferstehung in uns auf geheimnisvolle Weise gegenwärtig. - Gott bestärke euch in diesem beglückenden Glauben an die Auferstehung der Toten! Das erbitte ich euch mit meinem besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo cordialmente y doy la bienvenida a todos y cada uno de los peregrinos de lengua española procedentes de diversos Países, que habéis venido a Roma para renovar vuestra profesión de fe junto al sepulcro del Apóstol Pedro.

Seguimos reflexionando sobre la antropología paulina acerca de la resurrección. Según San Pablo, cada hombre lleva en sí la imagen de Adán y al mismo tiempo está llamado a ser portador de la imagen de Cristo resucitado. Esta imagen es una realidad escatológica, pero es también una realidad de este mundo, porque ha sido revelada mediante la resurrección de Cristo.

* * *

Quiero saludar ahora de modo particular al numeroso grupo de peregrinos del Paraguay. Sé que habéis venido a Roma movidos por una profunda devoción al Beato Roque González de Santa Cruz y Compañeros mártires. Que él os sirva de ejemplo en vuestra vida. Hoy, fiesta de San Blas, patrono de vuestra querida Nación, os encomiendo a vosotros y a vuestros connacionales a su especial protección y os bendigo con afecto.

Ai pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Saúdo cordialmente os presentes e ouvintes de língua portuguesa.

Continuando as nossas reflexões semanais, hoje, ainda com São Paulo, consideramos o corpo humano na perspectiva da revelação do seu destino último, da vida que vence a morte, da sua “redenção” mediante a ressurreição futura.

Na vida presente nós estamos como que entre dois pólos do mistério da criação e da redenção: Adão e Cristo, o “homem terrestre” e o “homem celeste”. Sem se contraporem, eles se inserem, de algum modo, no âmbito da estrutura interior do homem-pessoa, corpo e espírito, pondo-o “em tensão” para chegar à perfeição escatológica, em que o corpo se revestirá de imortalidade e será “incorruptível, glorioso, cheio de força e espiritual”.

Na condição terrena, que vos anime sempre a imagem reflexa do “homem celeste”, proveniente da ressurreição de Cristo, penhor da nossa ressurreição! Com a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai gruppi italiani

Desidero porgere un cordiale saluto al pellegrinaggio, organizzato dal Centro Studi “Il Subbio” di Bari, che ha fatto convergere a Roma numerosi fedeli della regione Puglia e della regione Basilicata, i Sindaci di dodici Centri, Delegazioni delle due regioni e delle Amministrazioni provinciali di Bari e di Matera.

A voi, carissimi fratelli e sorelle, il mio sincero compiacimento per questo incontro, nel quale volete manifestare la vostra adesione a Cristo ed alla Chiesa. Sia sempre la fede ad animare e ad orientare tutta la vostra vita.

La mia benedizione accompagni voi ed i vostri cari.

* * *

Un cordiale saluto anche al Consiglio nazionale ed a tutti i membri della “Associazione Nazionale dei Lavoratori Anziani di Azienda”, ai quali voglio esprimere la mia gratitudine e quella di tutta la comunità ecclesiale per l’esempio di concreta ed effettiva laboriosità, che hanno dato nei lunghi anni della loro attività professionale.

* * *

A voi giovani - tra i quali molti alunni di diverse Scuole ed un nutrito gruppo del “Movimento Gen 2” dei Focolarini - esprimo il mio costante affetto, unito alla ferma fiducia che sappiate dare un generoso contributo per la edificazione di un mondo più giusto e più pacifico.

* * *

Un affettuoso saluto rivolgo a voi, fratelli e sorelle ammalati, presenti a questa udienza. Voglio assicurarvi la preghiera solidale di tutta la Chiesa per le vostre sofferenze, che il Cristo associa alle sue, rendendole feconde di bene per tutti gli uomini.

* * *

Un saluto sincero ed un fervido augurio a voi, novelli Sposi, che in questi giorni dinanzi a Dio avete consacrato il vostro amore nel sacramento del Matrimonio. Sia la vostra vita coniugale sempre serena e felice, animata dalla grazia del Signore e corroborata dalla vicendevole fedeltà e dedizione.

A tutti il mio saluto e la mia benedizione.

La preghiera del Papa alla Vergine di Jasna Góra

Anche questa mattina il Santo Padre, nonostante l’assenza di pellegrini polacchi nell’Aula Paolo VI, recita nella sua lingua madre una preghiera alla Madonna di Jasna Góra. Questo il testo dell’invocazione:

Maryjo, Królowo Polski,

jestem przy Tobie, pamiętam, czuwam.

Przypominam raz jeszcze ten czas, kiedy byłaś “uwięziona” na szlakach nawiedzenia . . .

a jednak nawiedzenie trwało nadal.

Nie przybywał do parafii Twój obraz

- ale Ty przybywałaś - bez obrazu: w pustych ramach -

i poprzez te puste ramy wszyscy przeżywali Twoją obecność tak samo: boleśniej, może głębiej.

Wierzyli, że nie możesz być nieobecna - w dniu, w którym miałaś przybyć.

Wierzyli, że nie można Ci zamknąć drogi!

Do tej wiary się odwołuję teraz, o Pani Jasnogórska, gdy tylu ludzi w mojej Ojczyźnie odczuwa boleśnie, że zamknęła się przed nimi droga:

droga wolności w prawdzie, droga zwyczajnych praw człowieka, droga poszanowania sumień, droga życia i pracy na miarę ludzkiej godności oraz szlachetnego dziedzictwa narodu.

Matko! dotrzyj do wszystkich! i dopomóż! i naucz! i przekonaj: że tej drogi nie można zamknąć!

Ukaż, że ona jest! Naucz, jak nią chodzić!

. . . jestem przy Tobie, pamiętam, czuwam.

Wy, którzy jesteście na tej audiencji, Polacy, zabierzcie z sobą, dokądkolwiek zabierze Was życie, to wezwanie do Pani Jasnogórskiej: “Królowo Polski - jestem przy Tobie, pamiętam, czuwam”.

Ed ecco la preghiera del Papa in una nostra traduzione italiana.

O Maria, Regina della Polonia,

son con te, ricordo, vigilo.

Rammento ancora una volta il tempo, quando tu sei stata “imprigionata”, mentre facevi la tua visita pellegrinante . . . eppure la visita proseguì.

Non giunse alla parrocchia la tua immagine, ma tu sei venuta - senza immagine, nella cornice vuota - e grazie a questa cornice vuota, tutti hanno vissuto ugualmente la tua presenza: più dolorosamente, forse più profondamente.

Credevano che non potevi essere assente, nel giorno in cui dovevi arrivare.

Credevano che non si può chiuderti la strada!

A questa fede mi richiamo ora, o signora di Jasna Góra, quando tanta gente nella mia patria sente di nuovo dolorosamente che si è chiusa davanti ad essa la via della libertà nella verità, la via dei comuni diritti dell’uomo, la via del rispetto delle coscienze, la via della vita e del lavoro a misura della dignità umana e del nobile patrimonio della nazione.

Madre! Tu giungi a tutti! e aiuti, insegni e convinci che non si può chiudere questa via!

Tu mostri che essa esiste! Insegni come camminare su di essa! . . . son con te, ricordo, vigilo.

Voi polacchi, che siete presenti a questa udienza, portate con voi, ovunque vi conduce la vita, questa invocazione alla Madonna di Jasna Góra:

Regina della Polonia son con te, ricordo, vigilo”.


1. "Paul takes absolutely no account of the Greek dichotomy between 'soul and body'.... The Apostle resorts to a kind of trichotomy in which the totality of man is body, soul and spirit.... All these terms are alive and the division itself has no fixed limit. He insists on the fact that body and soul are capable of being 'pneumatic,' spiritual" (B. Rigaux, Dieu l'a ressuscité. Exégèse et Théologie biblique [Gembloux: Duculot, 1973], pp. 406-408).

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