Here you will find a compilation of the texts of Pope John Paul II cited or mentioned in the book Paths of Love.
It is a characteristic feature
of the human heart to accept even difficult demands in the name of
love, for an ideal, and above all in the name of love for a person
(love is, in fact, oriented by its very nature toward the
person). And so, in this call to continence “for the kingdom of
heaven,” first the disciples and then the whole living tradition of
the Church quickly discovered the love for Christ himself as the
Bridegroom of the Church, Bridegroom of souls, to whom he has
given himself to the end (cf. Jn 13:1; 19:30) in the mystery of his
Passover and of the Eucharist.
In this way, continence “for the kingdom of heaven,” the choice of virginity or celibacy for one’s whole life, has become in the experience of the disciples and followers of Christ the act of a particular response to the love of the Divine Bridegroom, and therefore acquired the meaning of an act of spousal love, that is, of a spousal gift of self with the purpose of answering in a particular way the Redeemer’s spousal love; a gift of self understood as a renunciation, but realized above all out of love. (General Audience, April 21, 1982).
Speaking of continence for the kingdom of heaven and founding it on the example of his own life, Christ undoubtedly wanted his disciples to understand it above all in relation to the “kingdom” that he had come to announce and for which he indicated the right ways. The continence about which he spoke is precisely one of these ways and, as is clear from the context of Matthew, it is a particularly valid and privileged way. In fact, that preference given to celibacy and virginity “for the kingdom” was an absolute novelty in comparison with the tradition of the Old Covenant and had a decisive importance both for the ethos and the theology of the body.
2. In his statement, Christ stressed above all the finality of continence. He says that the way of continence, to which he himself gives testimony with his own life, not only exists and is not only possible, but is particularly valid and important “for the kingdom of heaven.” It must be so, given that Christ himself chose it for himself. And if this way is so valid and important, a particular value must belong to continence for the kingdom of heaven. As we already pointed out, Christ does not face the problem on the same level and in the same line of reasoning in which the disciples had placed it when they said, “If this is the condition...it is not advantageous to marry” (Mt 19:10). Their words implied at root a certain utilitarianism. In his response, by contrast, Christ indirectly indicated that if marriage possesses its full fittingness and value for the kingdom of heaven, a fundamental, universal, and ordinary value, faithful to its original institution by the Creator (recall that precisely in this context the Teacher appealed to the “beginning”), then continence on its part possesses a particular and “exceptional” value for this kingdom. It is obvious that we are dealing here with continence chosen consciously for supernatural reasons.
3. In his statement, when Christ emphasizes before all else the supernatural finality of this continence, he does so not only in an objective, but also in an explicitly subjective sense, that is, he indicates the need for a motivation corresponding in an adequate and full way to the objective finality declared in the expression “for the kingdom of heaven.” To realize the end in question—that is, to discover in continence that particular spiritual fruitfulness that comes from the Holy Spirit—one must will it and choose it in the power of a deep faith that not only shows us the kingdom of God in its future fulfillment, but also allows and enables us in a particular way to identify ourselves with the truth and the reality of this kingdom, precisely as it is revealed by Christ in his evangelical message and above all by the personal example of his life and actions. This is why it was said above that continence “for the kingdom of heaven”—inasmuch as it is an indubitable sign of the “other world”—bears within itself above all the inner dynamism of the mystery of the redemption of the body (see Lk 20:35), and in this meaning it also possesses the characteristic of a particular likeness with Christ. The one who consciously chooses such continence chooses in some sense a particular participation in the mystery of the redemption (of the body); he wishes to complete it in a particular way in his own flesh (see Col 1:24), finding thereby also the imprint of a likeness with Christ.
4. All of this refers to the motivation of the choice (or to its end in the subjective sense): in choosing continence for the kingdom of heaven, man “should” let himself be guided exactly by such motivation. In the case in question, Christ does not say that man has an obligation to it (in any case, it is certainly not a question of a duty that springs from a commandment); still, without any doubt, his concise words about continence “for the kingdom of heaven” strongly highlight precisely its motivation. They highlight the motive (that is, they indicate the finality of which the subject is aware) both in the first part of the whole statement and in the second, by indicating that what is at stake is a particular choice, a choice proper to a rather exceptional vocation that is not universal and ordinary. At the beginning of the first part of his statement, Christ speaks about understanding (“Not all can understand it, but only those to whom it has been granted,” Mt 19:11); and it is not a question of an “understanding” in the abstract, but an understanding that influences the decision, the personal choice in which the “gift,” that is, the grace, must find an adequate resonance in the human will. Such an “understanding” thus involves motivation. Motivation then influences the choice of continence, which is accepted after one has understood its meaning “for the kingdom of heaven.” In the second part of his statement, Christ declares that man “makes himself” a eunuch when he chooses continence for the kingdom of heaven and makes it the fundamental situation or state of his whole earthly life. In a decision that is consolidated in this way, the supernatural motive, from which the decision itself took its origin, subsists. It subsists by renewing itself, I would say, continually.
We have already turned our attention to the particular meaning of the final statement. When Christ speaks in this case about “making oneself” a eunuch, he not only highlights the specific weight of this decision, which is explained by the motivation born from a deep faith, but he does not even attempt to hide the travail that such a decision and its long-lasting consequences can have for man, for the normal (and also noble) inclinations of his nature. (General Audience, March 31, 1982).