Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Salvifici Doloris"
(On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering)
1. Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the apostle Paul says:
"In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for
the sake of his body, that is, the church" .
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 St. Paul writes: "Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake"
. 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.
2. The theme of suffering -- precisely under the aspect of this
salvific meaning -- seems to fit profoundly into the context of the
holy year of the redemption as an extraordinary jubilee of the church.
And this circumstance too clearly favors the attention it deserves
during this period. Independently of this fact, it is a universal
theme that accompanies man at every point on earth: In a certain sense
it coexists with him in the world and thus demands to be constantly
reconsidered. Even though Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, wrote
that "the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until
now" , even though man knows and is close to the sufferings of the
animal world, nevertheless what we express by the word "suffering"
seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man. It is as
deep as man himself, precisely because it manifests in its own way
that depth which is proper to man and in its own way surpasses it.
Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence: It is one of those
points in which man is in a certain sense "destined" to go beyond
himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way.
3. The theme of suffering in a special way demands to be faced in
the context of the holy year of the redemption and this is so, in the
first place, because the redemption was accomplished through the cross
of Christ, that is, through his suffering. And at the same time,
during the holy year of the redemption we recall the truth expressed
in the encyclical Redemptor Hominis (Redeemer of Man): In Christ
"every man becomes the way for the church" . IT can be said that
man in a special fashion becomes the way for the church when suffering
enters his life. This happens, as we know, at different moments in
life, it takes place in different ways, it assumes different
dimensions; nevertheless, in whatever form, suffering seems to be, and
is, almost inseparable from man's earthly existence.
Assuming then that throughout his earthly life man walks in one
manner or another on the long path of suffering, it is precisely on
this path that the church at all times -- and perhaps especially
during the holy year of the redemption -- should meet man. Born of
the mystery of the redemption in the cross of Christ, the church has
to try to meet man in a special way on the path of his suffering. In
this meeting man "becomes the way for the church," and this way is one
of the most important ones.
4. This is the origin also of the present reflection, precisely in
the year of the redemption: a meditation on suffering. Human
suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect and in its own way
it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of a
specific mystery. This special respect for every form of human
suffering must be set at the beginning of what will be expressed here
later by the deepest need of the heart and also by the deep imperative
of faith. About the theme of suffering these two reasons seem to draw
particularly close to each other and to become one: The need of the
heart commands us to overcome fear, and the imperative of faith --
formulated, for example in the words of St. Paul quoted at the
beginning -- provides the content, in the name of which and by virtue
of which we dare to touch what appears in every man so intangible: For
man, in his suffering, remains an intangible mystery.
II. The World of Human Suffering
5. Even though in its subjective dimension, as a personal fact
contained within man's concrete and unrepeatable interior, suffering
seems almost inexpressible and not transferable, perhaps at the same
time nothing else requires as much as does suffering, in its
"objective reality," to be dealt with, meditated upon and conceived
as an explicit problem; and that therefore basic questions be asked
about it and the answers sought. It is evident that it is not a
question here merely of giving a description of suffering. There are
other criteria which go beyond the sphere of description and which we
must introduce when we wish to penetrate the world of human suffering.
Medicine, as the science and also the art of healing, discovers in
the vast field of human sufferings the best known area, the one
identified with greater precision and relatively more counterbalanced
by the methods of "reaction" (that is, the methods of therapy).
Nonetheless, this is only one area. The field of human suffering is
much wider, more varied and multidimensional. Man suffers in
different ways, ways not always considered by medicine, not even in
its most advanced specializations. Suffering is something which is
still wider than sickness, more complex and at the same time still
more deeply rooted in humanity itself. A certain idea of this problem
comes to us from the distinction between physical suffering and moral
suffering. This distinction is based upon the double dimension of the
human being and indicates the bodily and spiritual element as the
immediate or direct subject of suffering. Insofar as the words
"suffering" and "pain" can, up to a certain degree, be used as
synonyms, physical suffering is present when "the body is hurting" in
some way, whereas moral suffering is "pain of the soul." In fact, it
is a question of pain of a spiritual nature and not only of the
"psychological" dimension of pain which accompanies both moral and
physical suffering. The vastness and many forms of moral suffering
are certainly no less in number than the forms of physical suffering.
But at the same time, moral suffering seems as it were less identified
and less reachable by therapy.
6. Sacred scripture is a great book about suffering. Let us quote
from the books of the Old Testament a few examples of situations which
bear the signs of suffering and above all moral suffering: the danger
of death , the death of one's own children  and especially the
death of the firstborn and only son ; and then too: the lack of
offspring , nostalgia for the homeland , persecution and
hostility of the environment , mockery and scorn of the one who
suffers , loneliness and abandonment ; and again: the remorse
of conscience , the difficulty of understanding why the wicked
prosper and the just suffer , the unfaithfulness and ingratitude
of friends and neighbors ; and finally: the misfortunes of one's
own nation .
In treating the human person as a psychological and physical
"whole," the Old Testament often links "moral" sufferings with the
pain of specific parts of the body: the bones , kidneys ,
liver , viscera , heart . In fact one cannot deny that
moral sufferings have a "physical" or somatic element, and that they
are often reflected in the state of the entire organism.
7. As we see from the examples quoted, we find in sacred scripture
an extensive list of variously painful situations for man. This
varied list certainly does not exhaust all that has been said and
constantly repeated on the theme of suffering by the book of the
history of man (this is rather an "unwritten book") and even more by
the book of the history of humanity, read through the history of every
It can be said that man suffers whenever he experiences any kind of
evil. In the vocabulary of the Old Testament, suffering and evil are
identified with each other. In fact, that vocabulary did not have a
specific word to indicate "suffering." Thus it defined as "evil"
everything that was suffering . Only the Greek language, and
together with it the New Testament (and the Greek translation of the
Old Testament), use the verb pascho ("I am affected by ..., I
experience a feeling, I suffer"); and thanks to this verb, suffering
is no longer directly identifiable with (objective) evil, but
expresses a situation in which man experiences evil and in doing so
becomes the subject of suffering. Suffering has indeed both a
subjective and a passive character (patior). Even when man brings
suffering on himself, when he is its cause, this suffering remains
something passive in its metaphysical essence.
This does not however mean that suffering in the psychological sense
is not marked by a specific "activity." This is in fact that multiple
and subjectively differentiated "activity" of pain, sadness,
disappointment, discouragement or even despair, according to the the
intensity of the suffering subject and his or her specific
sensitivity. In the midst of what constitutes the psychological form
of suffering there is always an experience of evil, which causes the
individual to suffer.
Thus the reality of suffering prompts the question about the essence
of evil: What is evil?
This question seems in a certain sense inseparable from the theme of
suffering. The Christian response to it is different, for example,
from the one given by certain cultural and religious traditions which
hold that existence is an evil from which one needs to be liberated.
Christianity proclaims the essential good of existence and the good of
that which exists, acknowledges the goodness of Creator and proclaims
the good of creatures. Man suffers on account of evil, which is a
certain lack, limitation or distortion of good. We could say that man
suffers because of a good in which he does not share, from which in a
certain sense he is cut off or of which he has deprived himself. He
particularly suffers when he "ought" -- in the normal order of things
-- to have a share in this good and does not have it.
Thus, in the Christian view, the reality of suffering is explained
through evil, which always in some way refers to a good.
8. In itself human suffering constitutes as it were a specific
"world" which exists together with man, which appears in him and
passes, and sometimes does not pass, but which consolidates itself and
becomes deeply rooted in him. This world of suffering, divided into
many, very many subjects, exists as it were "in dispersion." Every
individual, through personal suffering, constitutes not only a small
part of that "world," but at the same time that "world" is present in
him as a finite and unrepeatable entity. Parallel with this, however,
is the interhuman and social dimension. The world of suffering
possesses as it were its own solidarity. People who suffer become
similar to one another through the analogy of their situation, the
trial of their destiny or through their need for understanding and
care, and perhaps above all through the persistent question of the
meaning of suffering. Thus, although the world of suffering exists
"in dispersion," at the same time it contains within itself a singular
challenge to communion and solidarity. We shall also try to follow
this appeal in the present reflection.
Considering the world of suffering in its personal and at the same
time collective meaning, one cannot fail to notice the fact that this
world, at some periods of time and in some eras of human existence, as
it were becomes particularly concentrated. This happens for example,
in cases of natural disasters, epidemics, catastrophes, upheavals and
various social scourges: One thinks, for example, of a bad harvest and
connected with it -- or with various other causes -- the scourge of
One thinks, finally, of war. I speak of this in a particular way.
I speak of the last two world wars, the second of which brought with
it a much greater harvest of death and a much heavier burden with it
-- as though in proportion to the mistakes and transgressions of our
contemporary civilization -- such a horrible threat of nuclear war
that we cannot think of this period except in terms of an incomparable
accumulation of sufferings, even to the possible self-destruction of
humanity. In this way that the world of suffering which, in brief,
has its subject in each human being seems in our age to be transformed
-- perhaps more than at any other moment -- into a special "world":
the world which as never before has been transformed by progress
through man's work, and, at the same time, is as never before in
danger because of man's mistakes and offenses.
III. The Quest for an Answer to the Question of the Meaning
9. Within each form of suffering endured by man and at the same time
at the basis of the whole world of suffering, there inevitably arises
the question: why? It is a question about the cause, the reason and,
equally about the purpose of suffering and, in brief, a question about
its meaning. Not only does it accompany human suffering, but it seems
even to determine its human content, what makes suffering precisely
It is obvious that pain, especially physical pain, is widespread in
the animal world. But only the suffering human being knows that he is
suffering and wonders why; and he suffers in a humanly speaking still
deeper way if he does not find a satisfactory answer. This is a
difficult question, just as is a question closely akin to it, the
question of evil? Why does evil exist? Why is there evil in the
world? When we put the question in this way, we are always, at least
to a certain extent, asking a question about suffering too.
Both questions are difficult when an individual puts them to another
individual, when people put them to other people, as also when man
puts them to God. For man does not put this question to the world
even though it is from the world that suffering often comes to him,
but he puts it to God as the Creator and Lord of the world. And it is
well-known that concerning this question there not only arise many
frustrations and conflicts in the relations of man with God, but it
also happens that people reach the point of actually denying God.
For, whereas the existence of the world opens as it were the eyes of
the human soul to the existence of God, to his wisdom, power and
greatness, evil and suffering seem to obscure this image, sometimes in
a radical way, especially in the daily drama of so many cases of
undeserved suffering and of so many faults without proper punishment.
So this circumstance shows -- perhaps more than any other -- the
importance of the question of the meaning of suffering: it also shows
how much care must be taken both in dealing with the question itself
and with all possible answers to it.
10. Man can put this question to God with all the emotion of his
heart and with his mind full of dismay and anxiety; and God expects
the question and listens to it, as we see in the revelation of the Old
Testament. In the Book of Job the question has found its most vivid
The story of this just man, who without any fault of his own is
tried by innumerable sufferings, is well-known. He loses his
possessions, his sons and daughters, and finally he himself is
afflicted by a grave sickness. In this horrible situation three old
acquaintances come to his house, and each one in his own way tries to
convince him that since he has been struck down by such varied and
terrible sufferings, he must have done something seriously wrong. For
suffering -- they say -- always strikes a man as punishment for a
crime; it is sent by the absolutely just God and finds its reason in
the order of justice. It can be said that Job's old friends wish not
only to convince him of the moral justice of evil, but in a certain
sense they attempt to justify to themselves the moral meaning of
suffering. In their eyes, suffering can have a meaning only as a
punishment for sin, therefore only on the level of God's justice, who
repays good with good and evil with evil.
The point of reference in this case is the doctrine expressed in
other Old Testament writings which show us suffering as punishment
inflicted by God for human sins. The God of revelation is the
lawgiver and judge to a degree that no temporal authority can be. For
the God of revelation is first of all the Creator, from whom comes,
together with existence, the essential good of creation. Therefore,
the conscious and free violation of this good by man is not only a
transgression of the law, but at the same time an offense against the
Creator, who is the first lawgiver. Such a transgression has the
character of sin, according to the exact meaning of this word, namely
the biblical and theological one. Corresponding to the moral evil of
sin is punishment, which guarantees the moral order in the same
transcendent sense in which this order is laid down by the will of the
Creator and supreme lawgiver. From this there also derives one of the
fundamental truths of religious faith, equally based upon revelation,
namely that God is a just judge, who rewards good and punishes evil:
"For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us, and all thy
works are true and thy ways right, and all thy judgements truth. Thou
has executed true judgements in all that thou hast brought upon us ...
for in truth and justice thou hast brought all this upon us because of
our sins" .
The opinion expressed by Job's friends manifests a conviction also
found in the moral conscience of humanity: The objective moral order
demands punishment for transgression, sin and crime. From this point
of view, suffering appears as a :justified evil." The conviction of
those who explain suffering as a punishment for sin finds support in
the order of justice, and this corresponds to the conviction expressed
by one of Job's friends: "As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and
so trouble reap the same" .
11. Job however challenges the truth of the principle that
identifies suffering with punishment for sin. And he does this on the
basis of his own opinion. For he is aware that he has not deserved
such punishment, and in fact he speaks of the good that he has done
during his life. In the end, God himself reproves Job's friends for
their accusations and recognizes that Job is not guilty. His
suffering is the suffering of someone who is innocent; it must be
accepted as a mystery, which the individual is unable to penetrate
completely by his own intelligence.
The Book of Job does not violate the foundations of the transcendent
moral order, based upon justice, as they are set forth by the whole of
revelation, in both the Old and the New Covenants. At the same time,
however, this book shows with all firmness that the principles of
this order cannot be applied in an exclusive and superficial way.
While it is true that suffering has a meaning as punishment, when it
is connected with a fault, it is not true that all suffering is a
consequence of a fault and has the nature of a punishment. The figure
of the just man Job is a special proof of this in the Old Testament.
Revelation, which is the word of God himself, with complete frankness
presents the problem of the suffering of an innocent man: suffering
without guilt. Job has not been punished, there was no reason for
inflicting a punishment on him, even if he has been subjected to a
grievous trial. From the introduction of the book it is apparent that
God permitted this testing as a result of Satan's provocation. For
Satan had challenged before the Lord the righteousness of Job:
"Does Job fear God for naught? ... Thou hast blessed the work of his
hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth
thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy
And if the Lord consents to test Job with suffering, he does it to
demonstrate the latter's righteousness. The suffering has the nature
of a test.
The Book of Job is not the last word on this subject in revelation.
In a certain way it is a foretelling of the passion of Christ. But
already in itself it is sufficient argument why the answer to the
question about the meaning of suffering is not to be unreservedly
linked to the moral order, based on justice alone. While such an
answer has fundamental and transcendent reason and validity, at the
same time it is seen to be not only unsatisfactory in cases similar to
the suffering of the just man Job, but it even seems to trivialize and
impoverish the concept of justice which we encounter in revelation.
12. The Book of Job poses in an extremely acute way the question of
the "why" of suffering; it also shows that suffering strikes the
innocent, but it does not yet give the solution to the problem.
Already in the Old Testament we note an orientation that begins to
go beyond the concept according to which suffering has a meaning only
as a punishment for sin, insofar as it emphasizes at the same time the
educational value of suffering as a punishment. Thus in the
sufferings inflicted by God upon the chosen people there is included
an invitation of his mercy, which corrects in order to lead to
conversion: "These punishments were designed not to destroy but to
discipline our people" .
Thus the personal dimension of punishment is affirmed. According to
this dimension, punishment has a meaning not only because it serves to
repay the objective evil of the transgression with another evil, but
first and foremost because it creates the possibility of rebuilding
goodness in the subject who suffers.
This is an extremely important aspect of suffering. It is
profoundly rooted in the entire revelation of the Old and above all
the New Covenant. Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for
the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the
divine mercy in this call to repentance. The purpose of penance is to
overcome evil, which under different forms lies dormant in man. Its
purpose is also to strengthen goodness both in man himself and in his
relationships with others and especially with God.
13. But in order to perceive the true answer to the "why" of
suffering, we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate
source of the meaning of everything that exists. Love is also the
richest source of the meaning of suffering, which always remains a
mystery: We are conscious of the insufficiency and inadequacy of our
explanations. Christ causes us to enter into the mystery and to
discover the "why" of suffering, as far as we are capable of grasping
the sublimity of divine love.
In order to discover the profound meaning of suffering, following
the revealed word of God, we must open ourselves wide to the human
subject in his manifold potentiality. We must above all accept the
light of revelation not only insofar as it expresses the transcendent
order of justice, but also insofar as it illuminates this order with
love, as the definitive source of everything that exists. Love is
also the fullest source of the answer to the question of the meaning
of suffering. This answer has been given by God to man in the cross
of Jesus Christ.
IV. Jesus Christ: Suffering Conquered by Love
14. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" .
These words, spoken by Christ in his conversation with Nicodemus,
introduce us into the very heart of God's salvific work. They also
express the very essence of Christian soteriology, that is, of the
theology of salvation. Salvation means liberation from evil, and for
this reason it is closely bound up with the problem of suffering.
According to the words spoken to Nicodemus, God gives his Son to "the
world" to free man from evil, which bears within itself the definitive
and absolute perspective on suffering. At the same time, the very
word "gives" ("gave") indicates that this liberation must be achieved
by the only-begotten Son through his own suffering. And in this, love
is manifested, the infinite love both of that only-begotten Son and of
the Father who for this reason "gives" his son. This is the love for
man, love for the "world": It is salvific love.
We here find ourselves -- and we must clearly realize this in our
shared reflection on this problem -- faced with a completely new
dimension of our theme. It is a different dimension from the one
which was determined and, in a certain sense, concluded the search for
the meaning of suffering within the limits of justice. This is the
dimension of redemption, to which the Old Testament, at least in the
Vulgate text, the words of the just man Job already seem to refer:
"For I know that my redeemer lives, and at last ... I shall see God"
. Whereas our consideration has so far concentrated primarily and
in a certain sense exclusively on suffering in its multiple temporal
dimension (as also the sufferings of the just man Job), the words
quoted above from Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus refer to
suffering in its fundamental and definitive meaning. God gives his
only-begotten Son so that man "should not perish," and the meaning of
these words " should not perish" is precisely specified by the words
that follow: "but have eternal life."
Man "perishes" when he loses "eternal life." The opposite of
salvation is not therefore only temporal suffering, any king of
suffering, but the definitive suffering: the loss of eternal life,
being rejected by God, damnation. The only-begotten Son was given to
humanity primarily to protect man against this definitive evil and
against definitive suffering. In his salvific mission the Son must
therefore strike evil right at its transcendental roots from which it
develops in human history. These transcendental roots of evil are
grounded in sin and death: for they are at the basis of the loss of
eternal life. The mission of the only-begotten Son consists in
conquering sin and death. He conquers sin by his obedience unto
death, and he overcomes death by his resurrection.
15. When one says that Christ by his mission strikes at evil at its
very roots, we have in mind not only evil and definitive
eschatological suffering (so that man "should not perish, but have
eternal life"), but also -- at least indirectly -- evil and suffering
in sin and death. And even if we must use great caution in judging
man's suffering as a consequence of concrete sins (this is shown
precisely by the example of the just man Job), nevertheless suffering
cannot be divorced from the sin of the beginnings, from what St. John
calls "the sin of the world" , from the sinful background of the
personal actions and social processes in human history. Though it is
not licit to apply here the narrow criterion of direct dependence (as
Job's three friends did), it is equally true that one cannot reject
the criterion that at the basis of human suffering there is a complex
involvement with sin.
It is the same when we deal with death. It is often awaited even as
a liberation from the suffering of this life. At the same time, it is
not possible to ignore the fact that it constitutes as it were a
definitive summing up of the destructive work both in the bodily
organism and in the psyche. But death primarily involves the
dissolution of the entire psychophysical personality of man. The soul
survives and subsists separated from the body, while the body is
subjected to gradual decomposition according to the words of the Lord
God, pronounced after the sin committed by man at the beginning of his
earthly history: "You are dust and to dust you shall return" .
Therefore, even if death is not a form of suffering in the temporal
sense of the word, even if in a certain way it is beyond all forms of
suffering, at the same time the evil which the human being experiences
in death has a definitive and total character. By his salvific work,
the only-begotten Son liberates man from sin and death. First of all,
he blots out from human history the dominion of sin, which took root
under the influence of the evil spirit, beginning with original sin,
and then he gives man the possibility of living in sanctifying grace.
In the wake of his victory over sin, he also takes away the dominion
of death, by his resurrection beginning the process of the future
resurrection of the body. Both are essential conditions of "eternal
life," that is, of man's definitive happiness in union with God; this
means, for the saved, that in the eschatological perspective suffering
is totally blotted out.
As a result of Christ's salvific work, man exists on earth with the
hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over
sin and death achieved by Christ in his cross and resurrection does not
abolish temporal suffering from human life nor free from suffering the
whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws
a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of
salvation. This is the light of the Gospel, that is, of the good
news. At the heart of this light is the truth expounded in the
conversation with Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave
his only Son" . This truth radically changes the picture of man's
history and his earthly situation: In spite of the sin that took root
in this history both as an original inheritance and as the "sin of the
world" and as the sum of personal sins, God the Father has loved the
only-begotten Son, that is, loves him in a lasting way; and then in
time, precisely through this all-surpassing love, he "gives" this Son,
that he may strike at the very roots of human evil and thus draw close
in a salvific way to the whole world of suffering in which man shares.
16. In his messianic activity in the midst of Israel, Christ drew
increasingly closer to the world of human suffering. "He went about
doing good" , and his actions concerned primarily those who were
suffering and seeking help. He healed the sick, consoled the
afflicted, fed the hungry, freed people from deafness, from blindness,
from leprosy, from the devil and from various physical disabilities,
three times he restored the dead to life. He was sensitive to every
human suffering, whether of the body or of the soul. And at the same
time he taught, and at the heart of his teaching there are the eight
beatitudes, which addressed to people tried by various sufferings in
their temporal life. These are "poor in spirit" and "the afflicted"
and "those who hunger and thirst for justice" and those who are
"persecuted for justice' sake," when they insult them, persecute them
and speak falsely every kind of evil against them for the sake of
Christ ... . Thus according to Matthew; Luke mentions explicitly
those "who hunger now" .
At any rate, Christ drew close above all to the world of human
suffering through the fact of having taken this suffering upon his
very self. During his public activity he experienced not only
fatigue, homelessness, misunderstanding even on the part of those
closest to him, but, more than anything, he became progressively more
and more isolated and encircled by hostility and the preparations for
putting him to death. Christ is aware of this and often speaks to his
disciples of the sufferings and death that await him:
"Behold, we are going to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be
delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn
him to death and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him,
and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days
he will rise" .
Christ goes toward his passion and death with full awareness of the
mission that he has to fulfill precisely in this way. Precisely by
means of this suffering he must bring it about "that man should not
perish, but have eternal life." Precisely by means of his cross he
must accomplish the work of salvation. This work, in the plan of
eternal love, has a redemptive character.
And therefore Christ severely reproves Peter when the latter wants
to make him abandon the thoughts of suffering and of death on the
cross . And when, during his arrest in Jerusalem, the same Peter
tries to defend him with the sword, Christ says, "Put your sword back
into its place ... But who then should the scriptures be fulfilled,
that it must be so?" . And he also says, "Shall I not drink the
cup which the Father has given me?" . This response, like others
that reappear in different points of the Gospel, shows how profoundly
Christ was imbued by the thought that he had already expressed in the
conversation with Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave
his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have
eternal life" . Christ goes toward his own suffering, aware of
its saving power; he goes forward in obedience to the Father, but
primarily he is united to the Father in this love with which he has
loved the world and man in the world. And for this reason St. Paul
will write of Christ: "He loved me and gave himself for me" .
17. The scriptures had to be fulfilled. There were many messianic
texts in the Old Testament which foreshadowed the sufferings of the
future Anointed One of God. Among all these, particularly touching is
the one which is commonly called the fourth song of the suffering
servant, in the Book of Isaiah. The prophet, who has rightly been
called "the fifth evangelist," presents in this song an image of the
sufferings of the servant with a realism as acute as if he were seeing
them with his own eyes: the eyes of the body and of the spirit. In
the light of the verses of Isaiah, the passion of Christ becomes
almost more expressive and touching than in the descriptions of the
evangelists themselves. Behold the true Man of Sorrows presents
himself before us:
"He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no
beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by
men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom
men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely
he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him
stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our
iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with
his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray we have
turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the
iniquity of us all" .
The song of the suffering servant contains a description in which it
is possible, in a certain sense, to identify the stages of Christ's
passion in their various details: the arrest, the humiliation, the
blows, the spitting, the contempt for the prisoner, the unjust
sentence, and then the scourging, the crowning with thorns and the
mocking, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion and the agony.
Even more than this description of the passion, what strikes us in
the words of the prophet is the depth of Christ's sacrifice. Behold,
he, though innocent, takes upon himself the sufferings of all people,
because he takes upon himself the sins of all. "The Lord has laid on
him the iniquity of us all": All human sin in its breadth and depth
becomes the true cause of the Redeemer's suffering. If the suffering
"is measured" by the evil suffered, then the words of the prophet
enable us to understand the extent of this evil and suffering with
which Christ burdened himself. It can be said that this is
"substantive" suffering; but above all it is "redemptive." The man of
sorrows of that prophecy is truly the "Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world" . In his suffering, sins are canceled out
precisely because he alone as the only-begotten Son could take them
upon himself, accept them with that love for the Father which
overcomes the evil of every sin; in a certain sense he annihilates
this evil in the spiritual space of the relationship between God and
humanity, and fills this space with good.
Here we touch upon the duality of nature of a single personal
subject of redemptive suffering. He who by his passion and death on
the cross brings about the redemption is the only-begotten Son whim
God "gave." And at the same time this Son who is consubstantial with
the Father suffers as a man. His suffering has human dimensions; it
also has -- unique in the history of humanity -- an incomparable depth
and intensity of suffering, insofar as the man who suffers is in
person the only-begotten Son himself: "God from God." Therefore, only
he -- the only-begotten Son -- is capable of embracing the measure of
evil contained in the sin of man: in every sin and in "total" sin,
according to the dimensions of the historical existence of humanity on
18. It can be said that the above consideration now brings us
directly to Gethsemane and Golgotha, where the song of the suffering
servant contained in the Book of Isaiah was fulfilled. But before
going there, let us read the next verses of the song, which give a
prophetic anticipation of the passion at Gethsemane and Golgotha. The
suffering servant -- and this in turn is essential for an analysis of
Christ's passion -- takes on himself those sufferings which were
spoken of, in a totally voluntary way:
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his
mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that
before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
"By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his
generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the
living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made
his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although
he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth" .
Christ suffers voluntarily and suffers innocently. With his
suffering he accepts that question which --posed by people many times
-- has been expressed in a certain sense in a radical way by the Book
of Job. Christ, however, not only carries with himself the same
question (and this in an even more radical way, for he is not only a
man like Job, but the only-begotten Son of God), but he also carries
the greatest possible answer to this question. One can say that this
answer emerges from the very matter of which the question is made up.
Christ gives the answer to the question about suffering and the
meaning of suffering not only by his teaching, that is, by the good
news, but most of all by his own suffering, which is integrated with
this teaching of the good news in an organic and indissoluble way.
And this is the final, definitive word of this teaching: "the word of
the cross," as St. Paul one day will say .
This "word of the cross" completes with a definitive reality the
image of the ancient prophecy. Many episodes, many discourses, during
Christ's public teaching bear witness to the way in which from the
beginning he accepts this suffering which is the will of the Father
for the salvation of the world. However, the prayer in Gethsemane
becomes a definitive point here. The words: "My Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but
as thou wilt" , and later: "My Father, if this cannot pass unless
I drink it, thy will be done" , have a manifold eloquence. They
prove the truth of that love which the only-begotten Son gives to the
Father in his obedience. At the same time, they attest to the truth
of his suffering. The words of that prayer of Christ in Gethsemane
prove the truth of love through the truth of suffering. Christ's
words confirm with all simplicity this human truth of suffering to its
very depths: Suffering is the undergoing of evil before which man
shudders. He says: "Let it pass from me," just as Christ says in
His words also attest to this unique and incomparable depth and
intensity of suffering which only the man who is the only-begotten Son
could experience; they attest to that depth and intensity which the
prophetic words quoted above in their own way help us to understand.
Not of course completely (for this we would have to penetrate the
divine-human mystery of the subject), but at least they help us to
understand that difference (and at the same time the similarity) which
exists between every possible form of human suffering and the
suffering of the God-man. Gethsemane is the place where precisely
this suffering, in all truth expressed by the prophet concerning the
evil experienced in it, is revealed as it were definitively before the
eyes of Christ's soul.
After the words in Gethsemane come the words uttered on Golgotha,
words which bear witness to this depth -- unique in the history of the
world -- of the evil of the suffering experienced. When Christ says:
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" his words are not only
an expression of that abandonment which many times found expression in
the Old Testament, especially in the psalms and in particular in that
Psalm 22 (21) from which come the words quoted . One can say that
these words on abandonment are born at the level of that inseparable
union of the Son with the Father, and are born because the Father
"laid on him the iniquity of us all" . They foreshadow the words
of St. Paul: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin"
. Together with this horrible weight, encompassing the "entire"
evil of the turning away from God which is contained in sin, Christ,
through the divine depth of his filial union with the Father,
perceives in a humanly inexpressible way this suffering which is the
separation, the rejection by the Father, the estrangement from God.
But precisely through this suffering he accomplishes the redemption
and can say as he breathes his last: "It is finished" .
One can also say that the scripture has been fulfilled, that these
words of the song of the suffering servant have been definitively
accomplished: "It was the will of the Lord to bruise him" . Human
suffering has reached its culmination in the passion of Christ. And
at the same time it has entered into a completely new dimension and a
new order: It has been linked to love, to that love of which Christ
spoke to Nicodemus, to that love which creates good, drawing it out by
means of suffering, just as the supreme good of the redemption of the
world was drawn from the cross of Christ and from that cross
constantly takes its beginning. The cross of Christ has become a
source from which flow rivers of living water . In it we must
also pose anew the question about the meaning of suffering and read in
it, to its very depths, the answer to this question.
V. Sharers in the Sufferings of Christ
19. The same song of the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah
leads us, through the following verses, precisely in the direction of
this question and answer:
"When he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his
offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall
prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul
and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my
servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their
"Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall
divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to
death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of
many, and made intercession for the transgressors" .
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 had foreseen
this when he said: "I know that my Redeemer lives" , and as though
he had directed toward 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 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
letter: "You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways
inherited from your fathers, not with 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
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 though 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.
20. 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 we are always being given up to death for Jesus' 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" . And in the Letter to the Romans
he writes: "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable
to God, which is your spiritual worship" .
The very participation in Christ's sufferings finds in these
apostolic expressions as it were a twofold dimension. If one becomes
a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has
opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive
suffering has become in a certain sense a sharer in all human
sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive suffering
of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings; he rediscovers
them through faith, enriched with a new content and new meaning.
This discovery caused St. Paul to write particularly strong words in
the Letter to the Galatians: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is
no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me: and the life I now
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me"
. Faith enables the author of these words to know that love which
led Christ to the cross. And if he loved us in this way, suffering
and dying, then with this suffering and death of his he lives in the
one whom he loved in this way; he lives in the man: in Paul. And
living in him -- to the degree that Paul, conscious of this through
faith, responds to his love with love -- Christ also becomes in a
particular way united to the man, to Paul through the cross. This
union caused Paul to write in the same letter to the Galatians other
words as well, no less strong: "But far be it from me to glory except
in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been
crucified to me, and I to the world .
21. The cross of Christ throws salvific light, in a most penetrating
way, on man's life and in particular on his suffering. For through
faith the cross reaches man together with the resurrection: The
mystery of the passion is contained in the paschal mystery. witnesses
of Christ's passion are at the same time witnesses of his
resurrection. Paul writes: "That I may know him (Christ) and the
power of the resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like
him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from
the dead" . Truly, the apostle first experienced the "power of
the resurrection" of Christ on the road to Damascus and only later, in
this paschal light, reached that "sharing in his sufferings" of which
he speaks, for example, in the letter to the Galatians. The path of
Paul is clearly paschal: Sharing in the cross of Christ comes about
through the experience of the Risen One, therefore through a special
sharing in the resurrection. Thus, even in the apostle's expressions
on the subject of suffering there so often appears the motif of glory,
which finds its beginning in Christ's cross.
The witnesses of the cross and resurrection were convinced that
"through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" .
And Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says this:
"We ourselves boast of you ... for your steadfastness and faith in
all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.
This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, that you may be
made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering" .
Thus to share in the sufferings of Christ is at the same time to
suffer for the kingdom of God. In the eyes of the just God, before
his judgement, those who share in the sufferings of Christ become
worthy of this kingdom. Through their sufferings, in a certain sense
they repay the infinite price of our redemption: At this price the
kingdom of God has been consolidated anew in human history, becoming
the definitive prospect of man's earthly existence. Christ has led us
into this kingdom through his suffering. And also through suffering
those surrounded by the mystery of Christ's redemption become mature
enough to enter this kingdom.
22. To the prospect of the kingdom of God is linked hope in that
glory which has its beginning in the cross of Christ. The
resurrection revealed this glory -- eschatological glory -- which in
the cross of Christ was completely obscured by the immensity of
suffering. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ are also
called, through their own sufferings, to share in glory. Paul
expresses this in various places. To the Romans he writes:
"We are ... fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in
order that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the
sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory
that is to be revealed in us" .
In the Second Letter to the Corinthians we read: "For this slight
momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen
but to things that are unseen" . The apostle Peter will express
this truth in the following words of his first letter: "But rejoice
insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice
and be glad when his glory is revealed" .
The motif of suffering and glory has a strictly evangelical
characteristic, which becomes clear by reference to the cross and the
resurrection. The resurrection became, first of all, the
manifestation of glory, which corresponds to Christ's being lifted up
through the cross. If in fact the cross was to human eyes Christ's
emptying of himself, at the same time it was in the eyes of God his
being lifted up. On the cross, Christ attained and fully accomplished
his mission: By fulfilling the will of the Father, he at the same time
fully realized himself. In weakness he manifested his power and in
humiliation he manifested all his messianic greatness. Are not all
the words he uttered during his agony on Golgotha a proof of this
greatness and especially his words concerning the perpetrators of his
crucifixion: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?"
. To those who share in Christ's sufferings these words present
themselves with the power of a supreme example. Suffering is also an
invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual
maturity. Proof of this has been given, down through the generations,
by the martyrs and confessors of Christ, faithful to the words: "And
do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul" .
Christ's resurrection has revealed "the glory of the future age" and
at the same time has confirmed "the boast of the cross": the glory
that is hidden in the suffering of Christ and which has been and is
often mirrored in human suffering, as an expression of man's spiritual
greatness. This glory must be acknowledged not only in the martyrs
for the faith, but in many others also who, at times even without
belief in Christ, suffer and give their liver for the truth and for a
just cause. In the sufferings of all of these people the great
dignity of man is strikingly confirmed.
23. Suffering, in fact, is always a trial -- at times a very hard
one -- to which humanity is subjected. The gospel paradox of weakness
and strength often speaks to us from the pages of the letters of St.
Paul, a paradox particularly experienced by the apostle himself and
together with him experienced by all who share Christ's will all the
more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest
upon me" . In the Second Letter to Timothy we read: "And
therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I
have believed" . And in the Letter to the Philippians he will
even say: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" .
Those who share in Christ's sufferings have before their eyes the
paschal mystery of the cross and resurrection, which Christ descends,
in the first phase, to the ultimate limits of human weakness and
impotence: Indeed, he dies nailed to the cross. But if at the same
time in this weakness there is accomplished his lifting up, confirmed
by the power of the resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses
of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same
power of God manifested in Christ's cross. In such a concept, to
suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to
the working of the salvific powers of God offered to humanity in
Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through
suffering, which is man's weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes
to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of
self. This also explains the exhortation in the First Letter of
Peter: "Yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but
under that name let him glorify God" .
In the Letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul deals still more fully
with the theme of this "birth of power in weakness," this spiritual
tempering of man in the midst of trials and tribulations, which is the
particular vocation of those who share in Christ's sufferings. "More
than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering
produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character
produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has
been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been
given to us" . Suffering as it were contains a special call to
the virtue which man must exercise on his own part. And this is the
virtue of perseverance in bearing whatever disturbs and causes harm.
In doing this, the individual unleashes hope, which maintains in him
the conviction that suffering will not get the better of him, that it
will not deprive him of his dignity as a human being, a dignity linked
to awareness of the meaning of life. And indeed this meaning makes
itself known together with the working of God's live, which is the
supreme gift of the Holy Spirit. The more he shares in this love, man
rediscovers himself more and more fully in suffering: He rediscovers
the "soul" which he thought he had "lost"  because of suffering.
24. Nevertheless, the apostle's experiences as a sharer in the
sufferings of Christ go even further. In the Letter to the Colossians
we read the words which constitute as it were the final stage of the
spiritual journey in relation to suffering: "Now I rejoice in my
sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking
in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church"
. And in another letter he asks his readers: "Do you not know
that your bodies are members of Christ?" .
In the paschal mystery of Christ began the union with man in the
community of the church. The mystery of the church is expressed in
this: that already in the act of baptism, which brings about a
configuration with Christ, and then through his sacrifice --
sacramentally through the eucharist -- the church is continually built
up spiritually as the body of Christ. In this body, Christ wishes to
be united with every individual, and in a special way he is united
with those who suffer. The words quoted above from the Letter to the
Colossians bear witness to the exceptional nature of this union. For,
whoever suffers in union with Christ -- just as the apostle Paul bears
his "tribulations" in union with Christ -- not only receives from
Christ that strength already referred to, but also "completes" by this
suffering "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." This evangelical
outlook especially highlights the truth concerning the creative
character of suffering. The sufferings of Christ created the good of
the world's redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and
infinite. No man can add anything to it. But at the same time, in
the mystery of the church as his body, Christ has in a sense opened
his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. Insofar as man
becomes a sharer in Christ's sufferings -- in any part of the world
and at any time in history -- to that extent he in his own way
completes the suffering through which Christ accomplished the
redemption of the world.
Does this mean that the redemption achieved by Christ is not
complete? No. It only means that the redemption, accomplished through
satisfactory love, remains always open to all love expressed in human
suffering. In this dimension -- the dimension of love -- the
redemption which has already been completely accomplished is in a
certain sense constantly being accomplished. Christ achieved the
redemption completely and to the very limit: but at the same time he
did not bring it to a close. In this redemptive suffering, through which
the redemption of the world was accomplished, Christ opened himself
from the beginning to every human suffering and constantly does so.
Yes, it seems to be part of the very essence of Christ's redemptive
suffering that this suffering requires to be unceasingly completed.
Thus, with this openness to every human suffering, Christ has
accomplished the world's redemption through his own suffering. For at
the same time this redemption, even though it was completely achieved
by Christ's suffering, lives on and in its own special way develops in
the history of man. It lives and develops as the body of Christ, the
church, and in this dimension every human suffering, by reason of the
loving union with Christ, completes the suffering of Christ. It
completes that suffering just as the church completes the redemptive
work of Christ. The mystery of the church -- that body which
completes in itself also Christ's crucified and risen body -- indicates
at the same time the space and context in which human sufferings
complete the sufferings of Christ. Only within this radius and
dimension of the church as the body of Christ, which continually
develops in space and time, can one think and speak of "what is
lacking" in the sufferings of Christ. The apostle, in fact, makes
this clear when he writes of "completing what is lacking in Christ's
afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the church."
It is precisely the church which ceaselessly draws on the infinite
resources of the redemption, introducing it into the life of humanity,
which is the dimension in which the redemptive suffering of Christ can
be constantly completed by the suffering of man. This also highlights
the divine and human nature of the church. Suffering seems in some
way to share in the characteristics of this nature. And for this
reason suffering also has a special value in the eyes of the church.
It is something good, before which the church bows down in reverence
with all the depth of her faith in the redemption. She likewise bows
down with all the depth of that faith with which she embraces within
herself the inexpressible mystery of the body of Christ.
VI. The Gospel of Suffering
25. The witnesses of the cross and resurrection of Christ have
handed on to the church and to mankind a specific gospel of suffering.
The Redeemer himself wrote this gospel, above all by his own suffering
accepted in love, so that man "should not perish but have eternal
life" . This suffering, together with the living word of his
teaching, became a rich source for all those who shared in Jesus'
sufferings among the first generation of his disciples and confessors
and among those who have come after them down the centuries.
It is especially consoling to note -- and also accurate in
accordance with the Gospel and history -- that at the side of Christ,
in the first and most exalted place, there is always his mother
through the exemplary testimony that she bears by her whole life to
this particular gospel of suffering. In her, the many and intense
sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were
not only a proof of her unshakable faith but also a contribution to
the redemption of all. In reality, from the time of her secret
conversation with the angel, she began to see in her mission as a
mother her "destiny" to share in a singular and unrepeatable way in
the very mission of her son. And she very soon received a
confirmation of this in the events that accompanied the birth of Jesus
in Bethlehem and in the solemn words of the aged Simeon, when he spoke
of a sharp sword that would pierce her heart. Yet a further
confirmation was in the anxieties and privations of the hurried flight
into Egypt, caused by the cruel decision of Herod.
And again, after the events of her son's hidden and public life,
events which she must have shared with acute sensitivity, it was on
Calvary that Mary's suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached
an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view
but which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the
redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at
the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a
special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her son. And the
words which she heard from his lips were a kind of solemn handing
over of this gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the
whole community of believers.
As a witness to her son's passion by her presence and as a sharer in
it by her compassion, Mary offered a unique contribution to the gospel
of suffering by embodying in anticipation the expression of St. Paul
which was quoted at the beginning. She truly has a special title to
be able to claim that she "completes in her flesh" -- as already in
her heart -- "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions."
In the light of the unmatchable example of Christ, reflected with
singular clarity in the life of his mother, the gospel of suffering,
through the experiences and words of the apostles, becomes an
inexhaustible source for the ever-new generations that succeed one
another in the history of the church. The gospel of suffering
signifies not only the presence of suffering in the Gospel, as one of
the themes of the good news, but also the revelation of the salvific
power and salvific significance of suffering in Christ's messianic
mission and subsequently in the mission and vocation of the church.
Christ did not conceal from his listeners the need for suffering.
He said very clearly: "If any man would come after me ... let him take
up his cross daily" , and before his disciples he placed demands
of a moral nature that can only be fulfilled on condition that they
should "deny themselves" . The way that leads to the kingdom of
heaven is "hard and narrow," and Christ contrasts it to the "wide and
easy" way that "leads to destruction" . On various occasions
Christ also said that his disciples and confessors would meet with
much persecution, something which -- as we know -- happened not only
in the first centuries of the church's life under the Roman empire,
but also came true in various historical periods and in other parts of
the world, and still does even in our own time.
Here are some of Christ's statements on the subject:
"They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, deliver you up
to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings
and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear
testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate
beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom,
which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or
contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and
kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will
be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair on your head will
perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives" .
The gospel of suffering speaks first in various places of suffering
"for Christ," "for the sake of Christ," and it does so with the words
of Jesus himself or the words of his apostles. The Master does not
conceal the prospect of suffering from his disciples and followers.
On the contrary, he reveals it with all frankness, indicating at the
same time the supernatural assistance that will accompany them in the
midst of persecutions and tribulations "for my name's sake." These
persecutions and tribulations will also be, as it were, a particular
proof of likeness to Christ and union with him. "It the world hates
you, know that it has hated me before it hated you ...; but because
you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore
the world hates you ... A servant is not greater than his master. If
they persecuted me they will persecute you ... But all this they will
do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me"
. "I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In
the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome
the world" .
This first chapter of the gospel of suffering, which speaks of
persecutions, namely of tribulations experienced because of Christ,
contains in itself a special call to courage and fortitude, sustained
by the eloquence of the resurrection. Christ has overcome the world
definitively by his resurrection. Yet because of the relationship
between the resurrection and his passion and death, he has at the same
time overcome the world by his suffering. Yes, suffering has been
singularly present in that victory over the world which was manifested
in the resurrection. Christ retains in his risen body the marks of
the wounds of the cross in his hands, feet and side. Through the
resurrection he manifests the victorious power of suffering, and he
wishes to imbue with the conviction of this power the hearts of those
whom he chose as apostles and those whom he continually chooses and
sends forth. The apostle Paul will say: "All who desire to live a
godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" .
26. While the first great chapter of the gospel of suffering is
written down, as the generations pass, by those who suffer
persecutions for Christ's sake, simultaneously another great chapter
of this gospel unfolds through the course of history. This chapter is
written by all those who suffer together with Christ, united their
human sufferings to his salvific suffering. In these people there is
fulfilled what the first witnesses of the passion and resurrection
said and wrote about sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Therefore
in those people there is fulfilled the gospel of suffering, and at the
same time each of them continues in a certain sense to write it: They
write it and proclaim it to the world, they announce it to the world
in which they live and to the people of their time.
Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in
suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person
interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace many
saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Ignatius of Loyola and
others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion
is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of
suffering, but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He
discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and
vocation. This discovery is a particular confirmation of the
spiritual greatness which in man surpasses the body in a way that is
completely beyond compare. When the body is gravely ill, totally
incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and
acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness
become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are
healthy and normal.
This interior maturity and spiritual greatness in suffering are
certainly the result of a particular conversion and cooperation with
the grace of the crucified Redeemer. It is he himself who acts at the
heart of human sufferings through his Spirit of truth, through the
consoling Spirit. It is he who transforms in a certain sense the very
substance of spiritual life, indicating for the person who suffers a
place close to himself. It is he -- as the interior master and guide
-- who reveals to the suffering brother and sister this wonderful
interchange, situated at the very heart of the mystery of the
redemption. Suffering is in itself an experience of evil. But Christ
has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely
the good of eternal salvation. By his suffering on the cross, Christ
reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death. He conquered the
author of evil, Satan, and his permanent rebellion against the
Creator. To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and
gradually reveals the horizons of the kingdom of God: the horizons of
a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world
being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively,
Christ leads into this world, into this kingdom of the Father,
suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his
suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace
from the outside, but from within. And Christ through his own
salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering and
can act from within that suffering by the powers of his spirit of
truth, his consoling Spirit.
This is not all: The divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of
every sufferer through the heart of his holy mother, the first and the
most exalted of the redeemed. As though by a continuation of that
motherhood, which by the power of the Holy Spirit had given him life,
the dying Christ conferred upon the ever-Virgin Mary a new kind of
motherhood -- spiritual and universal -- toward all human beings, so
that every individual, during the pilgrimage of faith, might remain,
together with her, closely united to him unto the cross and so that
every form of suffering, given fresh life by the power of this cross,
should become no longer the weakness of man, but the power of God.
However, this interior process does not always follow the same
pattern. It often begins and is set in motion with great difficulty.
Even the very point of departure differs: People react to suffering in
different ways. But in general it can be said that almost always the
individual enters suffering with a typically human protest and with
the question why. He asks the meaning of his suffering and seeks an
answer to this question on the human level. Certainly he often puts
this question to God and to Christ. Furthermore, he cannot help
noticing that the one to whom he puts the question is himself
suffering and wishes to answer him from the cross, from the heart of
his own suffering. Nevertheless, it often takes time, even a long
time, for this answer to begin to be interiorly perceived. For Christ
does not answer directly and he does not answer in the abstract this
human questioning about the meaning of suffering. Man hears Christ's
saving answer as he himself gradually becomes a sharer in the
suffering of Christ.
The answer which comes through this sharing by way of the interior
encounter with the Master is in itself something more than the mere
abstract answer to the question about the meaning of suffering. For
it is above all a call. It is a vocation. Christ does not explain in
the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says:
"Follow me!" Come! Take part though your suffering in this work of
saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through
my cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross,
spiritually uniting himself to the cross of Christ, the salvific
meaning of suffering is revealed before him. He does not discover
this meaning at his own human level, but at the level of the suffering
of Christ. At the same time, however, from this level of Christ the
salvific meaning of suffering descends to man's level and becomes in a
sense the individual's personal response. It is then that man finds
in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.
27. St. Paul speaks of such joy in the Letter to the Colossians: "I
rejoice in my sufferings for your sake" . A source of joy is
found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering,
a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering.
This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly, but seems to
make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive
help and assistance from others and at the same time seems useless to
himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union
with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in
the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the
suffering person "completes what is lacking in Christ's afflictions";
the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of the
redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers
and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service.
In the body of Christ, which is ceaselessly born of the cross of the
Redeemer, it is precisely suffering permeated by the spirit of
Christ's sacrifice that is the irreplaceable mediator and author of
the good things which are indispensable for the world's salvation. It
is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the
grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything
else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the
redemption. In that "cosmic" struggle between the spiritual powers of
good and evil, spoken of in the Letter to the Ephesians , human
sufferings, united to the redemptive suffering of Christ, constitute a
special support for the powers of good and open the way to the victory
of these salvific powers.
And so the church sees in all Christ's sufferings brothers and
sisters as it were a multiple subject of his supernatural power. How
often is it precisely to them that the pastors of the church appeal
and precisely from them that they seek help and support! The gospel
of suffering is being written unceasingly, and it speaks unceasingly
with the words of this strange paradox: The springs of divine power
gush forth precisely in the midst of human weakness. Those who share
in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very
special particle of the infinite treasure of the world's redemption
and can share this treasure with others. The more a person is
threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today's
world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human
suffering possesses in itself. And the more the church feels the need
to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of
VII. The Good Samaritan
28. To the gospel of suffering there also belongs -- and in an
organic way -- the parable of the Good Samaritan. Through this
parable Christ wished to give an answer to the question: "Who is my
neighbor?" . For of the three travelers along the road from
Jerusalem to Jericho, on which there lay half dead a man who had been
stripped and beaten by robbers, it was precisely the Samaritan who
showed himself to be the real "neighbor" of the victim: "Neighbor"
means also the person who carried out the commandment of love of
neighbor. Two other men were passing along the same road; one was a
priest and the other a Levite, but each of them "saw him and passed by
on the other side." The Samaritan, on the other hand, "saw him and
had compassion on him. He went to him ... and bound up his wounds,"
then "brought him to an inn, and took care of him" . And when he
left, he solicitously entrusted the suffering man to the care of the
innkeeper, promising to meet any expenses.
The parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the gospel of
suffering. For it indicates what the relationship of each of us must
be toward our suffering neighbor. We are not allowed to "pass by on
the other side" indifferently; we must "stop" beside him. Everyone
who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may
take, is a good Samaritan. This stopping does not mean curiosity, but
availability. It is like the opening of a certain interior
disposition of the heart, which also has an emotional expression of
its own. The name "good Samaritan" fits every individual who is
sensitive to the sufferings of others, who "is moved" by the
misfortune of another. If Christ, who know the interior of man,
emphasizes this compassion, this means that it is important for our
whole attitude to others' suffering. Therefore one must cultivate
this sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion toward a
suffering person. Sometimes this compassion remains the only or
principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.
Nevertheless, the good Samaritan of Christ's parable does not stop
at sympathy and compassion alone. They become form for him and
incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a
word then, a good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, a
whatever its nature may be. Help which is, as far as possible,
effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare
material means. We can say that he gives himself, his very "I,"
opening this "I" to the other person. Here we touch upon one of the
key points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot "fully find
himself except though a sincere gift of himself" . A good
Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self.
29. Following the parable of the Gospel, we could say that
suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human
world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person,
that unselfish gift of one's "I" on behalf of other people, especially
those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for,
so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain
sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his
heart and actions. The person who is a "neighbor" can not
indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this is the name of
fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of
neighbor. He must "stop," "sympathize," just like the Samaritan of
the gospel parable. The parable in itself expresses a deeply
Christian truth, but one that at the same time is very universally
human. It is not without reason that also in ordinary speech any
activity on behalf of the suffering and needy is called "good
In the course of the centuries this activity assumes organized
institutional forms and constitutes a field of work in the respective
professions. How much there is of "the good Samaritan" in the
profession of the doctor, or the nurse or others similar! Considering
its "evangelical" content, we are inclined to think here of a vocation
rather than simply a profession. And the institutions which from
generation to generation have performed "good Samaritan" service have
developed and specialized even further in our times. This undoubtedly
proves that people today pay ever greater and closer attention to the
sufferings of their neighbor, seek to understand those sufferings and
deal with them with ever greater skill. They also have an ever
greater capacity and specialization in this area. In view of all this
we can say that the parable of the Samaritan of the Gospel has become
one of the essential elements of moral culture and universally human
civilization. And thinking of all those who by their knowledge and
ability provide many kinds of service to their suffering neighbor, we
cannot but offer them words of thanks and gratitude.
These words are directed to all those who exercise their own service
to their suffering neighbor in an unselfish way, freely undertaking to
provide "good Samaritan" help and devoting to this cause all the time
and energy at their disposal outside their professional work. This
kind of voluntary "good Samaritan" or charitable activity can be
called social work; it can also be called an apostolate when it is
undertaken for clearly evangelical motives, especially if this is in
connection with the church or another Christian communion. Voluntary
"good Samaritan" work is carried out in appropriate milieu or through
organizations created for this purpose. Working in this way has a
great importance, especially if it involves undertaking larger tasks
which require cooperation and the use of technical means. No less
valuable is individual activity, especially by people who are better
prepared for it in regard to the various kinds of human suffering
which can only be alleviated in an individual or personal way.
Finally, family help means both acts of love of neighbor done to
members of the same family and mutual help between families.
It is difficult to list here all the types and different
circumstance of "good Samaritan" work which exit in the church and
society. It must be recognized that they are very numerous, and one
must express satisfaction at the fact that, thanks to them, the
fundamental moral values such as the value of human solidarity, the
value of Christian love of neighbor, form the framework of social life
and interhuman relationships and combat on this front the various
forms of hatred, violence, cruelty, contempt for others or simple
"insensitivity," in other words, indifference toward one's neighbor and
Here we come to the enormous importance of having the right
attitudes in education. The family, the school and other education
institutions must, if only for humanitarian reasons, work
perseveringly for the reawakening and refining of that sensitivity
toward one's neighbor and his suffering of which the figure of the
Good Samaritan in the Gospel has become a symbol. Obviously the church
must do the same. She must even more profoundly make her own -- as
far as possible -- the motivations which Christ placed in his parable
and in the whole Gospel. The eloquence of the parable of the Good
Samaritan and of the whole Gospel is especially this: Every individual
must feel as it called personally to bear witness to love in
suffering. The institutions are very important and indispensable;
nevertheless, no institution can by itself replace the human heart,
human compassion, human love or human initiative, when it is a
question of dealing with the sufferings of another. This refers to
physical sufferings, but it is even more true when it is a question of
the many kinds of moral suffering and when it is primarily the soul
that is suffering.
30. The parable of the Good Samaritan, which -- as we have said --
belongs to the gospel of suffering, goes hand in hand with this gospel
through the history of the church and Christianity, through the
history of man and humanity. This parable witnesses to the fact that
Christ's revelation of the salvific meaning of suffering is in no way
identified with an attitude of passivity. Completely the reverse is
true. The Gospel is the negation of passivity in the face of
suffering. Christ himself is especially active in this field. In
this way he accomplishes the messianic program of his mission,
according to the words of the prophet:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to
preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to
the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those
who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" .
In a superabundant way Christ carries out this messianic program of
his mission: He goes about "doing good" , and the good of his
works became especially evident in the face of human suffering. The
parable of the Good Samaritan is in profound harmony with the conduct
of Christ himself.
Finally, this parable, through its essential content, will enter
into those disturbing words of the Final Judgement, noted by Matthew
in his Gospel: "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry
and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a
stranger and you welcomed me, I was in prison and you came to me"
. To the just, who ask when they did all this to him, the Son of
Man will respond: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the
least of these my brethren, you did it to me" . The opposite
sentence will be imposed on those who have behaved differently: "As
you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me"
One could certainly extend the list of the forms of suffering that
have encountered human sensitivity, compassion and help or that have
failed to do so. The first and second parts of Christ's words about
the Final Judgement unambiguously show how essential it is for the
eternal life of the individual to "stop," as the Good Samaritan did,
at that suffering and to give some help. In the messianic program of
Christ, which is at the same time the program of the kingdom of God,
suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order
to giver birth to works of love toward neighbor, in order to transform
the whole of human civilization into a "civilization of love." In
this love the salvific meaning of suffering is completely accomplished
and reaches its definitive dimension. Christ's words about the Final
Judgement enable us to understand this in all the simplicity and
clarity of the Gospel.
These words about love, about actions of love, acts linked with
human suffering, enable us once more to discover at the basis of all
human sufferings the same redemptive suffering of Christ. Christ
said: "You did it to me." He himself is the one who in each
individual experiences love; he himself is the one who receives help
when this is given to every suffering person without exception. He
himself is present in this suffering person, since his salvific
suffering has been opened once and for all for all to every human
suffering. And all those who suffer have been called once and for all
to become sharers "in Christ's sufferings" , just as all have been
called to "complete" with their own suffering "what is lacking in
Christ's afflictions" . At one and the same time Christ has
taught man to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who
suffer. In this double respect he has completely revealed the meaning
31. This is the meaning of suffering, which is truly supernatural
and at the same time human. It is supernatural because it is rooted
in the divine mystery of the redemption of the world, and it is
likewise deeply human because in it the person discovers himself, his
own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission.
Suffering is certainly part of the mystery of man. Perhaps
suffering is not wrapped up as much as man in this mystery, which is
an especially impenetrable one. The Second Vatican Council expressed
this truth that "only in the mystery of the incarnate word does the
mystery of man take on light. In fact ... Christ, the final Adam, by
the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully
reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear" . If
these words refer to everything that concerns the mystery of man, then
they certainly rever in a very special way to human suffering.
Precisely at this point the "revealing of man to himself and making
his supreme vocation clear" is particularly indispensable. It also
happens -- as experience proves -- that this can be particularly
dramatic. But when it is completely accomplished and becomes the
light of human life, it is particularly blessed. "Through Christ and
in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful" .
I now end the present considerations on suffering in the year in
which the church is living the extraordinary jubilee linked to the
anniversary of the redemption.
The mystery of the redemption of the world is in an amazing way
rooted in suffering, and this suffering in turn finds in the mystery
of the redemption its supreme and surest point of reference.
We wish to live this year of the redemption in special union with
all those who suffer. And so there should come together in spirit
beneath the cross on Calvary all suffering people who believe in
Christ and particularly those who suffer because of their faith in him
who is the crucified and risen one, so that the offering of their
sufferings may hasten the fulfillment of the prayer of the Savior
himself that all may be one . Let there also gather beneath the
cross all people of good will, for on this cross is the "Redeemer or
man," the Man of Sorrows, who has taken upon himself the physical and
moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in love they may
find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all of
Together with Mary, mother of Christ, who stood beneath the cross
, we pause beside all the crosses of contemporary man.
We invoke all the saints, who down through the centuries in a
special way shared in the suffering of Christ. We ask them to support
And we ask all you who suffer to support us. We ask precisely you
who are weak to become a source of strength for the church and
humanity. In the terrible battle between the forces of good and evil
revealed to our eyes by our modern world, may your suffering in union
with the cross of Christ be victorious!
To all of you, dearest brothers and sisters, I send my apostolic
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the liturgical memorial of Our
Lady of Lourdes, February 11, 1984, in the sixth year of my
John Paul II
1. Col. 1:24
3. Rom. 8:22
4. Cf. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, nos. 14, 18, 22, AAS 71
(1979), 284f, 304, 320, 323.
5. As Hezekiah
6. As Hagar feared (cf Gn. 15-16), as Jacob imagined (cf. Gn
37:33-35), as David experienced (cf. 2 Sm. 19:1).
7. As Anna, the mother of Tobias, feared (cf. Tb. 10:1-7); cf. also
Jer. 6:26; Am. 8-10; Zec. 12:10.
8. Such was the trial of Abraham (cf. Gn. 15:2), of Rachel (cf. Gn.
30:1) or of Anna, the mother of Samuel (cf. 1 Sm. 1:6-10).
9. Such was the lament of the exiles in Babylon (cf. Ps. 137 (136)).
10. Suffered, for example by the psalmist (cf. Ps 22 (21):17-21) or by
Jeremiah (Cf. Jer. 18:18).
11. This was a trial for Job (cf. Jb. 18-19; 30:1-9), for some
psalmists (cf. Ps. 22(21):7-9; 42(41):11; 44(43):16-17, for Jeremiah
(cf. Jer. 20:7), for the suffering servant (cf. Is. 53:3).
12. Which certain psalmists had to suffer again (cf. 22(21):2-3;
31(30):13; 38(37):12; 88(87):9-19), Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 15:17) or the
suffering servant (cf. Is. 53:3).
13. Of the psalmist (cf. 51(50):5), or the witnesses of the sufferings
of the servant (cf. Is. 53:3-6), of the prophet Zechariah (cf. Zec.
14. This was strongly felt by the psalmist (cf. Ps. 73(72):3-14) and
Qoheleth (cf. Eccl. 4:1-3).
15. This was a suffering for Job (cf. Jb. 10:19), for certain
psalmists (cf. Ps. 41(40):10; 55(54):13-15), for Jeremiah (cf. Jer.
20:10), while Sirach meditated on this misery (cf. Sir. 37:1-6).
16. Besides numerous passages of Lamentations, cf. the laments of the
psalmists (cf. Ps. 44(43):10-17; 77(76):11; 89(88):51) or of the
prophets (cf. Is. 22:4; Jer. 4:8; 13:17; 14:17-18; Ez 9:8; 21:11-12);
also cf. the prayers of Azariah (cf. Dn. 3;31-40) and of Daniel (cf.
17. For example Is. 38:13; Jer. 23:9; Ps. 31(30):10-11; Ps.
18. For example Ps. 73(72):21; Jb. 16:13; Lam. 3:13.
19. For example Lam. 2:11.
20. For example Is. 16:11; Jer. 4:19; Jb. 30:27; Lam. 1:20.
21. For example 1 Sm. 1:8; Jer. 4:19; Jer. 8:18; Lam. 1:20-22; Ps.
22. In this regard it is useful to remember that the Hebrew root r"
designates in a comprehensive way what is evil, as opposed to what is
good (tob), without distinguishing between the physical, psychological
and ethical sense. The root is found in the substantive form ra' and
ra'a indicating indifferently evil in itself, or the evil action or
the individual who does it. In the verbal forms, besides the simple
one (qal) variously designating "being evil," there are the
reflexive-passive form (niphal) "to endure evil," "to be affected by
evil" and the causative form (hiphil) "to do evil," "to inflict evil"
on someone. Since the Hebrew lacks a true equivalent to the Greek
pascho, "I suffer," this verb too occurs rarely in the Septuagint
23. Dn. 3:27-28ff; cf. Ps. 19(18):10; 36(35):7; 48(47):12; 51(50):6;
99(98):4; 119(118):75; Mal. 3:16-21; Mt. 20:16; Mk. 10:31; Lk. 17:34;
Jn. 5:30; Rom. 2:2.
24. Jb. 4:8.
25. Jb. 1:9-11.
26. 2 Mc. 6:12.
27. Jn. 3:16.
28. Jb. 19:25-26.
29. Jn. 1:29.
30. Gn. 3:19.
31. Jn. 3:16.
32. Acts 10:38.
33. Cf. Mt. 5:3-11.
34. Cf. Lk. 6:12.
35. Mk. 10:33-34.
36. Cf. Mt. 16:23.
37. Mt. 26:52, 54.
38. Jn. 18:11.
39. Jn. 3:16.
40. Gal. 2:20
41. Is. 53:2-6.
42. Jn. 1:29.
43. Is. 53:7-9.
44. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:18.
45. Mt. 26:39.
46. Mt. 26:42.
47. Ps. 22 (21):2.
48. Is. 53:6.
49. 2 Cor. 5:21.
50. Jn. 19:30.
51. Is. 53:10.
52. Cf. Jn. 7:37-38.
53. Is. 53:10-12.
54. Jb. 19:25.
55. 1 Pt. 1:18-19.
56. Gal. 1:4.
57. 1 Cor. 6:20.
58. 2 Cor. 4:8-11, 14.
59. 2 Cor. 1:5.
60. 2 Thes. 3:5.
61. Rom. 12:1.
62. Gal. 2:19-20.
63. Gal. 6:14.
64. Phil. 3:10-11.
65. Acts 14:22.
66. 2 Thes. 1:4-5.
67. Rom. 8:17-18.
68. 2 Cor. 4:17-18.
69. 1 Pt. 4:13.
70. Lk. 23:34.
71. Mt. 10:28.
72. 2 Cor. 12:9.
73. 2 Tm. 1:12.
74. Phil. 4:13.
75. 1 Pt. 4:16.
76. Rom. 5:3-5.
77. Cf. Mk. 8:35; Lk. 9:24; Jn. 12:25.
78. Col. 1:24.
79. 1 Cor. 6:15.
80. Jn 3.16.
81. Lk. 9:23.
82. Cf. Lk. 9:23.
83. Cf. Mt. 7:13-14.
84. Lk. 21:12-19.
85. Jn. 15:18-21.
86. Jn. 16:33.
87. 2 Tm. 3:12.
88. Col. 1:24.
89. Cf. Eph. 6:12.
90. Lk. 10:29.
91. Lk. 10:33-34.
92. Gaudium et Spes, 24.
93. Lk. 4:18-19; cf. Is. 61:1-2.
94. Acts 10:38.
95. Mt. 25:34-36.
96. Mt. 25:40.
97. Mt. 25:45.
98. 1 Pt. 4:13.
99. Col. 1:24.
100. Gaudium et Spes, 22.
102. Cf. Jn. 17:11, 21-22.
103. Cf. Jn. 19:25.