Winter 2006

Toward a Theology of the Suffering Body

José Granados

“What is revealed about the body through suffering is its openness to the world in the form of vulnerability. This openness guides us to solidarity with our fellow men: the body becomes a place of communion by means of compassion.”

There is a chapter of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that is still waiting to be written. This claim might be borne out by way of a statement from the author himself, who mentioned at least one aspect of his work that would be worthy of development: “These reflections do not include multiple problems which, with regard to their object, belong to the theology of the body (as, for example, the problem of suffering and death, so important in the biblical message).”1 Suffering and death are especially important when we try to understand the redemption of the body brought about by Christ.

Now, let us remember that the catecheses are arranged according to a temporal pattern: from creation, to historical man (fallen and redeemed), to the resurrection of the body, that is, the last stage of history. This means that the missing chapter in question is the one that would make the transition between the fallen and redeemed states of mankind: the very life and death of Christ, the exact moment and way in which the redemption of the body—and its renewed access to the original experiences of Paradise—took place.

This paper is an attempt at a theological elaboration of this missing chapter, taking John Paul II’s theology of the body both as a point of departure and as a theological frame. Other works by John Paul II will be referred to as well in what follows.


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1. Cf. John Paul II, The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan (Boston, 1997) (=TB), 420.