These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake" 2. The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help—just as it helped him—to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

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Introduction nn. It is both a burden and a joy. Why it is a burden is evident; why it is a joy requires reflection into the mystery of redemption in Jesus Christ. Suffering is a constant theme throughout human existence.

Human suffering is deeper than animal pain, because suffering is transcendent and involves a sense of injustice. The World of Human Suffering nn. While medicine can seek to ease physical, mental, and emotional suffering, it cannot approach moral suffering. We all suffer in different ways and to different degrees. The Bible is largely about suffering. Moral suffering is often described in physiological terms in the Bible.

We suffer when we experience evil. In the Old Testament, the vocabulary implied that suffering is evil; with Greek and the New Testament , language emerges that inverts the relationship: evil leads to suffering. What is evil? Christianity sees the Creator and creation as good, and sees evil as a lack, limit, or distortion of good.

Man suffers because of a good in which he does not share. Suffering is an exile of sorts, a world of its own. Suffering also leads to solidarity and communion among those who suffer. In certain times in our history, suffering seems to be greatly concentrated, such as during famines or wars. During this era of nuclear weapons and possible mutual destruction, the amount of suffering appears proportional to the sins of our age. Why is there evil?

Man suffers and wonders why, and often suffers more deeply when he cannot find a satisfactory answer. The Book of Job poses this question of suffering. The Old Testament strongly supports that line of thinking: the existence of moral evil sin justifies the existence of suffering as punishment. To sin is to break the divine Law, it is to transgress against the divine Law-giver, God; it is an objective necessity that a just Law-giver should punish evil and reward good. Job challenges the principle that all suffering is the result of sin.

God acknowledges that Job is innocent in the matter, but the suffering of the innocent remains a mystery which God does not reveal. While some suffering is punishment for sin, not all suffering is: it can be a test of righteousness. This all points to the suffering Passion of Christ in the New Testament. Suffering as punishment such as Israel endured when it strayed from her covenant with God had an educational value as well.

Punishment repays evil, but it also provides an opportunity to rebuild the good that was missing. Punishment is ordered towards penalty, but also conversion, mercy, and rehabilitation.

Jesus Christ: Suffering Conquered by Love nn. Christ does not just address this eternal, definitive suffering, but also our temporal suffering, both of which are rooted in an experience of evil. Jesus comes to save us from sin and death.

Death is a final destructive blow to our persons, soul and body: the soul survives, though separated from the body, and the body decays. It is the final experience of suffering in this world.

Jesus saves us from sin by offering us Sanctifying Grace, and He saves us from death by His Resurrection which is a pledge of our future rising from the dead.

In Heaven, there will be no suffering at all. Christ was well-acquainted with suffering in His Messianic work: He was around the suffering and the sick, and He became more and more isolated and the target of hostility as He approached the culmination of His work on earth. He spoke of this suffering to His Apostles many times, and rebuked Peter when he tried to prevent Him from facing His destiny: the Cross.

He was fully aware of His mission and what it would entail, and the Scriptures prophesied the suffering He would have to face, as Jesus affirms several times. Jesus faced this suffering with full knowledge, in full obedience to His Father. It accurately depicts the events of His Passion and the depth of His sacrifice. In it, the Servant suffers for His people, to redeem and restore them. Only Jesus Christ, Who is true God and true Man, can take all the sins of humanity upon Himself in a complete and redemptive way.

The Song continues, showing that the Servants suffers voluntarily and innocently. Jesus proves His love for the Father through His obedience to Him, going to the cross freely and innocently. He proves the truth of love through the truth of suffering.

Sharers in the Suffering of Christ nn. Not only is man redeemed, but suffering itself is redeemed. Thus, as every man shares in the redemption, he is also called to share in the suffering through which redemption was gained for him.

The New Testament testifies over and over to the connection between participating suffering for Christ persecutions specifically and participating in His glory. He who identifies with Christ in His Passion and death is likewise identified with Christ in His Resurrection and glory. Suffering for Christ also means suffering for His Kingdom, which means suffering for others as well. This suffering is a call for moral greatness and builds spiritual character.

Suffering is a trial, but in our weakness, the glory and strength of Christ is made manifest, as St. Paul pointed out. So too, Christians who suffer on account of Christ have no need to feel shame. Suffering leads to endurance, which leads to character, which leads to hope; thus, suffering is a call for virtue. As St. The suffering Christ endured is by no means incomplete or insufficient, but our participation in it, as His Body, is what must be completed.

Christ leaves this redemptive suffering open so that it can be completed in us. The Gospel of Suffering nn. Christ told His disciples to bear hardships, carry their own crosses, and deny themselves, all of which are a sharing in His suffering, and which join His disciples to Him.

The promise of suffering often in the form of persecution for Christ requires courage and fortitude, placing hope in Christ and His victory over the world through His suffering. The fact that Christ retains the wounds of the crucifixion even on His resurrected body is a testimony to suffering being more that an encounter with evil.

This Gospel of Suffering is also written by those who suffer with Christ, uniting their sufferings with His. Suffering has a revelatory character: it conceals a grace which draws a person close to Christ, resulting in a deep conversion by which the person is changed to the core.

Suffering in the body also creates the opportunity for a display of interior maturity and spiritual heroism, setting an example of perseverance for others. Christ gave Mary a special motherhood over all men: as she was His mother in His suffering, so shall she be for all men in their suffering, teaching them to unite themselves to Christ. Suffering is a source of joy because, with its salvific meaning uncovered, it is no longer an experience of uselessness and burden to others.

Rather, the one who is suffering is actually doing their part to complete the sufferings of Christ in His Body the Church. Suffering provides an opportunity for grace. The Good Samaritan nn. This includes sympathy and compassion, but extends most importantly to action.

The Good Samaritan gives his all, even his very self, for the suffering other. This self-giving is at the core of Christian anthropology. Suffering creates an opportunity for others to show love. Thus, added to human solidarity are the Christian virtues especially love of neighbor which together overcome indifference to suffering. These acts of love are carried out by individuals, and not simply institutions, which can never replace the pure human element of compassion.

All human suffering is an opportunity to serve Christ as we ought, which will be taken into account in the Final Judgment. Human suffering is revealed to be a conduit of grace, both for the one suffering and the one who ministers. Conclusion n. Through human suffering, men find their identity in themselves and in Christ.


Carta apostólica - Salvifici Doloris del Sumo Pontifice Juan Pablo II

Pero, a la vez, el libro demuestra con toda claridad que los principios de este orden no se pueden aplicar de manera exclusiva y superficial. Esta pregunta ha sido dada por Dios al hombre en la cruz de Jesucristo. Pues Era sensible a todo sufrimiento humano, tanto al del cuerpo como al del alma. Y al mismo tiempo este Hijo de la misma naturaleza que el Padre, sufre como hombre.


Pope John Paul II's Salvifici doloris (On the Meaning of Human Suffering)

Apostolic Letter "Salvifici Doloris. In a way it is as deep as man himself and touches upon his very essence cf. Salvifici Doloris, 3. En cierto sentido, es tan profundo como el hombre mismo y afecta a su misma esencia cf. Salvifici doloris , 3.

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