Christ's Words on the Resurrection Complete the Revelation of the Body

Author: Pope John Paul II

Christ's Words on the Resurrection Complete the Revelation of the Body

Pope John Paul II


At the General Audience on Wednesday, 16 December, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father continued his series on the theology of the body.

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

The eschatological communion (communio)of man with God, constituted thanks to the love of a perfect union, will be nourished by the vision, face to face, of contemplation of that more perfect communion—because it is purely divine—which is the trinitarian communion of the divine Persons in the unity of the same divinity.

Perfect subjectivity

2. Christ's words, reported by the synoptic Gospels, enable us to deduce that participants in the "other world"—in this union with the living God which springs from the beatific vision of his unity and trinitarian communion—will not only keep their authentic subjectivity, but will acquire it to a far more perfect extent than in earthly life. Furthermore, this will confirm the law of the integral order of the person, according to which the perfection of communion is not only conditioned by the perfection or spiritual maturity of the subject, but also in turn determines it. Those who participate in the future world, that is, in perfect communion with the living God, will enjoy a perfectly mature subjectivity. In this perfect subjectivity, while keeping masculinity and femininity in their risen, glorious body, "They neither marry nor are given in marriage." This is explained not only with the end of history, but also, and above all, with the eschatological authenticity of the response to that self-communication of the divine subject. This will constitute the beatifying experience of the gift of himself on God's part, which is absolutely superior to any experience proper to earthly life.

3. The reciprocal gift of oneself to God—a gift in which man will concentrate and express all the energies of his own personal and at the same time psychosomatic subjectivity—will be the response to God's gift of himself to man.(1) In this mutual gift of himself by man, a gift which will become completely and definitively beatifying, as a response worthy of a personal subject to God's gift of Himself, virginity, or rather the virginal state of the body, will be totally manifested as the eschatological fulfillment of the nuptial meaning of the body, as the specific sign and the authentic expression of all personal subjectivity. In this way, therefore, that eschatological situation in which "They neither marry nor are given in marriage" has its solid foundation in the future state of the personal subject. This will happen when, as a result of the vision of God face to face, there will be born in him a love of such depth and power of concentration on God himself, as to completely absorb his whole psychosomatic subjectivity.

Union of communion

4. This concentration of knowledge (vision) and love on God himself—a concentration that cannot be other than full participation in the interior life of God, that is, in the very trinitarian reality—will be at the same time the discovery, in God, of the whole "world" of relations, constitutive of his perennial order (cosmos). This concentration will be above all man's rediscovery of himself, not only in the depth of his own person, but also in that union which is proper to the world of persons in their psychosomatic constitution. This is certainly a union of communion. The concentration of knowledge and love on God himself in the trinitarian communion of Persons can find a beatifying response in those who become participants in the other world, only through realizing mutual communion adapted to created persons. For this reason we profess faith in the "communion of saints" (communio sanctorum),and we profess it in organic connection with faith in the resurrection of the dead. Christ's words which affirm that in the other world, "They neither marry nor are given in marriage" are at the basis of these contents of our faith. At the same time they require an adequate interpretation in its light. We must think of the reality of the other world in the categories of the rediscovery of a new, perfect subjectivity of everyone and at the same time of the rediscovery of a new, perfect intersubjectivity of all. In this way, this reality signifies the real and definitive fulfillment of human subjectivity, and on this basis, the definitive fulfillment of the nuptial meaning of the body. The complete concentration of created subjectivity, redeemed and glorified, on God himself will not take man away from this fulfillment, in fact—on the contrary—it will introduce him into it and consolidate him in it. One can say, finally, that in this way eschatological reality will become the source of the perfect realization of the trinitarian order in the created world of persons.

Revelation of the body

5. The words with which Christ referred to the future resurrection—words confirmed in a singular way by his own resurrection—complete what in the present reflections we are accustomed to call the revelation of the body. This revelation penetrates in a way into the heart of the reality which we are experiencing. This reality is above all man, his body, the body of historical man. At the same time, this revelation enables us to go beyond the sphere of this experience in two directions—in the first place, in the direction of that beginning which Christ referred to in his conversation with the Pharisees regarding the indissolubility of marriage (cf. Mt 19:3-9); in the second place, in the direction of the other world, to which the Master drew the attention of his listeners in the presence of the Sadducees, who "say that there is no resurrection" (Mt 22:23). These two extensions of the sphere of the experience of the body (if we may say so) are not completely beyond the reach of our (obviously theological) understanding of the body. What the human body is in the sphere of man's historical experience is not completely cut off from those two dimensions of his existence, which are revealed through Christ's words.

Spiritual and physical

6. It is clear that here it is a question not so much of the body in abstract, but of man who is at once spiritual and physical. Continuing in the two directions indicated by Christ's words, and linking up again with the experience of the body in the dimension of our earthly existence (therefore in the historical dimension), we can make a certain theological reconstruction. This is a reconstruction of what might have been the experience of the body on the basis of man's revealed beginning, and also of what it will be in the dimension of the other world. The possibility of this reconstruction, which extends our experience of man-body, indicates, at least indirectly, the consistency of man's theological image in these three dimensions, which together contribute to the constitution of the theology of the body.


1. "In the biblical is a question of a 'dialogic' immortality (resuscitation!), that is, that immortality does not derive merely from the obvious truth that the indivisible cannot die, but from the saving act of him who loves, who has the power to do so; therefore man cannot completely disappear, because he is known and loved by God. If all love postulates eternity, love of God not only wishes it, but actuates it and is it.
...Since the immortality presented by the Bible does not derive from the power of what is in itself indestructible, but from being accepted in the dialogue with the Creator, for this reason it must be called resuscitation... J. Ratzinger, Risurrezione della carneaspetto teologico, Sacramentum Mundi, Vol. 7 (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1977), pp. 160-161).

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
4 January 1982, page 2

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