By John Paul II
Salvifici Doloris (1984) One can say that with the Passion of Christ all human suffering has found itself in a new situation. And it is as though Job has foreseen this when he said: “I know that my Redeemer lives” and as though he had directed towards it his own suffering, which without the Redemption could not have revealed to him the fullness of its meaning.
In the Cross of Christ not only is the Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed. Christ – without any fault of his own – took on himself “the total evil of sin”. The experience of this evil determined the incomparable extent of Christ’s suffering, which became the price of the Redemption. The Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah speaks of this. In later times, the witnesses of the New Covenant, sealed in the Blood of Christ, will speak of this.
These are the words of the Apostle Peter in his First Letter: “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with the perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” And the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Galatians will say: “He gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age,” and in the First Letter to the Corinthians: “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” With these and similar words the witnesses of the New Covenant speak of the greatness of the Redemption, accomplished through the suffering of Christ. The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.
The texts of the New Testament express this concept in many places. In the Second Letter to the Corinthians the Apostle writes: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’s sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh ... knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” St Paul speaks of various sufferings and, in particular, of those in which the first Christians became sharers “for the sake of Christ”. These sufferings enable the recipients of that Letter to share in the work of the Redemption, accomplished through the suffering and death of the Redeemer. The eloquence of the Cross and death is, however, completed by the eloquence of the Resurrection. Man finds in the Resurrection a completely new light, which helps him to go forward through the thick darkness of humiliations, doubts, hopelessness and persecution. Therefore the Apostle will also write in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” Elsewhere he addresses to his recipients words of encouragement: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”