Friday, April 20, 2007

Redemptive Suffering and Virginia Tech

Redemptive suffering. It's a term you hear from time to time, but you're not really sure what it means. Jesus expounded on it through his example on the Via Dolorosa as He was going through the Passion. In Christianity, specifically Catholicism, it is a term that has been poorly catechized to the laity of the 21st century.
I am not an expert on the topic and I suggest that you all do further research on this topic once your done reading this posting. But for the moment I will try to explain what redemptive suffering means. A good friend of mine said it succinctly in part, "if you find meaning in your suffering, you find meaning in your life." To expound on this I want to add also that when you suffer, you bring yourself closer to Christ because He suffered on His march to the Cross.
Pope John Paul II put it this way about Jesus and His suffering on the Via Dolorosa, "it also has unique in the history of humanity a depth and intensity which, while being human, can also be an incomparable depth and intensity of suffering, insofar as the man who suffers is in person the only-begotten Son Himself: 'God from God.'" Because of Jesus' suffering in His human nature, our suffering can be offered up to Him, to be in union with Him is to be a step closer to alter christus (like Christ).
In layman's terms, when we suffer, we can offer up our suffering to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Ergo, we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves through our suffering! Hence the term redemptive suffering.
Why or how do you say this is possible? Because He died for our sins! Because He conquered death when He rose again! Jesus went to the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of man. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for mans sins. Before Christ His chosen people would slaughter lambs or other animals to redeem themselves for their sins to God on an altar. When Jesus went to Golgotha, the place of the skull, He became the ultimate sacrifice for all of mans sins. There can be no greater sacrifice than this! That is why the Eucharist is the centerpiece of the Mass.
In light of current events down on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburgh, Virginia, we find an opportunity to offer up our suffering to Christ and as my good friend says, bring meaning to our lives.
For the Letter of Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering click here.
For the previous postings about the massacre at Virginia Tech click here and here.


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