To the Bishops, Priests, Religious Families and to the
Faithful of the Catholic Church
on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and dear brothers and
sisters in Christ,
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
These words seem to be found at the end of the
long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of
the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God.
These words have as it were the value of a final discovery,
which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake"(2). The joy comes
from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this
discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of
Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for
others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it
because of all those whom it can help—just as it helped him—to
understand the salvific meaning of suffering.
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 favours 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
co-exists 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"(3), 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: in Christ
"every man becomes the way for the Church"(4). 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
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 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 Saint 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
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
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 multi-dimensional. 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
the 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(5), the death
of one's own children(6) and, especially, the death of the
firstborn and only son(7); and then too: the lack of
offspring(8), nostalgia for the homeland(9), persecution and
hostility of the environment(10), mockery and scorn of the one
who suffers(11), loneliness and abandonment(12); and again: the
remorse of conscience(13), the difficulty of understanding why
the wicked prosper and the just suffer(14), the unfaithfulness
and ingratitude of friends and neighbours(15); and finally: the
misfortunes of one's own nation(16).
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(17), kidneys(18), liver(19), viscera(20),
heart(21). 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 human
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(22). Only the Greek language, and together with it
the New Testament (and the Greek translations of the Old
Testament), use the verb * = "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 (from "patior").
Even when man brings suffering on himself, when he is its cause,
this suffering remains something passive in its metaphysical
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 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 questions 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 the 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 a 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 a 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, epidemica, 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 famine.
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 of human sufferings. The second half of our
century, in its turn, brings 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 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 offences.
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 human suffering.
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 expression.
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 the 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 see. 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 offence 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 judgments are
truth. Thou hast executed true judgments in all that thou hast
brought upon us... for in truth and justice thou hast brought
all this upon us because of our sins"(23).
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 plough iniquity and sow
trouble reap the same"(24).
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 and 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 nought? ... 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 face"(25). 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 a 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
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
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" af 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
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.
SUFFERING CONQUERED BY
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"(27). 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 love for man, love for the "world": it is
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 limit of justice. This is the dimension of Redemption,
to which in 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..."(28).
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
Man " perishes" when he loses "eternal life".
The opposite of salvation is not, therefore, only temporal
suffering, any kind 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
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 toil and suffering in their temporal and
historical dimension. For evil remains bound to 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 Saint John calls "the sin of the world"(29), 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 dependance (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"(30). 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"(31). 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, he 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"(32), 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 are addressed to people tried by
various sufferings in their temporal life. These are "the 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...(33). Thus
according to Matthew; Luke mentions explicitly those "who hunger
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 up 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"(35). Christ goes
towards his Passion and death with full awareness of the mission
that he has to fulfil 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 strike at the roots of evil, planted in the
history of man and in human souls. 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(36). And when, during his
arrest in Gethsemane, the same Peter tries to defend him with
the sword, Christ says, " Put your sword back into its place...
But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it
must be so?(37)". And he also says, "Shall I not drink the
cup which the Father has given me?"(38). 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"(39).
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 Saint Paul
will write of Christ: "He loved me and gave himself for me"(40).
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
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"(41).
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 "substitutive" suffering; but above all it is
"redemptive". The Man of Sorrows of that prophecy is truly that
"Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"(42). In his
suffering, sins are cancelled 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 whom 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—a
depth and intensity which, while being human, can also be an
incomparable depth and intensity of suffering, insofar as the
man who suffers is in person the only-begotten Son himself: "
God from God". 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 earth.
18. It can be said that the above considerations
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 its 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 judgment 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"(43).
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 master 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 Saint Paul one day will say(44).
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"(45), and later: "My Father, if this cannot pass
unless I drink it, thy will be done"(46), 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 the 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  from which come the words quoted(47). 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"(48).
They also foreshadow the words of Saint Paul: "For our sake he
made him to be sin who knew no sin"(49). 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"(50).
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"(51). 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(52). 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.
SHARERS IN THE SUFFERING 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 iniquities.
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 has foreseen this when he said: "I know that my
Redeemer lives ...", and as though he had directed towards it
his own suffering, which without the Redemption could not have
revealed to him the fullness of its meaning.
In the Cross of Christ not only is the
Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human
suffering itself has been redeemed,. Christ, - without any
fault of his own - took on himself "the total evil of sin". The
experience of this evil determined the incomparable extent of
Christ's suffering, which became the price of the Redemption.
The Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah speaks of this. In
later times, the witnesses of the New Covenant, sealed in the
Blood of Christ, will speak of this.
These are the words of the Apostle Peter in his
First Letter: "You know that you were ransomed from the futile
ways inherited from your fathers, not with the perishable things
such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,
like that of a lamb without blemish or spot".
And the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the
Galatians will say: "He gave himself for our sins to deliver us
from the present evil age"(56), and in the First Letter to the
Corinthians: "You were bought with a price. So glorify God in
your body "(57).
With these and similar words the witnesses of
the New Covenant speak of the greatness of the Redemption,
accomplished through the suffering of Christ. The Redeemer
suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own
share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share
in that suffering through which the Redemption was
accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through
which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing
about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also
raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption.
Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the
redemptive suffering of Christ.
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 of Jesus
may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live 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
Saint 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"(59). 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"(60). 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
The very participation in Christ's suffering
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 Saint 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 in the flesh I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me"(62). 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
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. The 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 his
Resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in
his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from
the dead"(64). 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"(65). 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 judgment of
God, that you may be made worthy of the Kingdom of God,
for which you are suffering"(66). 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
judgment, those who share in the suffering of Christ become
worthy of this Kingdom. Through their sufferings, in a certain
sense they repay the infinite price of the Passion and death of
Christ, which became the 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
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"(67). 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"(68). The Apostle Peter will express this truth in the
following words of his First Letter: "But rejoice in so far as
you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be
glad when his glory is revealed "(69).
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"(70)? 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 very 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 lives 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 Saint Paul, a paradox particularly
experienced by the Apostle himself and together with him
experienced by all who share Christ's sufferings. Paul writes in
the Second Letter to the Corinthians: "I will all the more
gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest
upon me"(72). 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"(73). And in the Letter to the Philippians
he will even say: "I can do all things in him who
Those who share in Christ's sufferings have
before their eyes the Paschal Mystery of the Cross and
Resurrection, in which Christ descends, in a 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
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"(76). 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 love,
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"(77) 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"(78). And in another Letter he asks his readers: "Do you
not know that your bodies are members of Christ?"(79).
In the Paschal Mystery 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 being 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
his 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. In so far 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 limits 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 or
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.
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"(80). 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
unshakeable 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
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 Saint 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 experience 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 ''(81),
and before his disciples he placed demands of a moral nature
that can only be fulfilled on condition that they should "deny
themselves"(82). 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"(83). 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
Here are some of Christ's statements on this
subject: "They will lay their hands on you and persecute you,
delivering 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 of your head will perish.
By your endurance you will gain your lives"(84).
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 his name's sake". These persecutions and
tribulations will also be, as it were, a particular proof
of likeness to Christ and union with him. "If 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"(85). "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
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"(87).
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, uniting 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
Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint 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 this 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 the 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 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 all 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—towards 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 sufferings of
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 through 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. Saint Paul speaks of such joy in the Letter
to the Colossians: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your
sake"(88). 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 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(89), 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 suffering
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 the world.
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 neighbour?"(90) For of the three travellers
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
"neighbour" of the victim: "neighbour" means also the person
who carried out the commandment of love of neighbour. 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"(91). 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 towards our suffering neighbour. 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 knows 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 towards a suffering person. Some
times 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 for him an 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, 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
through a sincere gift of himself"(92). 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 " neighbour"
cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in
the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name
of love of neighbour. 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 Samaritan" work.
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
neighbour, 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 neighbour, 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 neighbour 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 milieux 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 neighbour done to members of the same family, and mutual
help between families.
It is difficult to list here all the types and
different circumstances of "Good Samaritan" work which exist 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
neighbour, 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 towards one's
neighbour and his sufferings.
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 towards one's neighbour 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 if 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
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 programme 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 of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who
are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord"(93).
In a superabundant way Christ carries out this messianic
programme of his mission: he goes about "doing good"(94).
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
Judgment, 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"(95). 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"(96). 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
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 Judgment unambiguously
show how essential it is, for the eternal life of every
individual, to "stop", as the Good Samaritan did, at the
suffering of one's neighbour, to have "compassion" for that
suffering, and to give some help. In the messianic programme of
Christ, which is at the same time the programme of the
Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order
to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards
neighbour, 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 Judgment
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 to every human suffering. And
all those who suffer have been called once and for all to become
sharers "in Christ's sufferings"(98), just as all have been
called to "complete" with their own suffering "what is lacking
in Christ's afflictions"(99). 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 aspect he has
completely revealed the meaning of suffering.
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 is by
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"(100). If these
words refer to everything that concerns the mystery of man, then
they certainly refer 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"(101).
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
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 fulfilment of the prayer of the Saviour himself that
all may be one(102). Let there also gather beneath the Cross all
people of good will, for on this Cross is the "Redeemer of 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 their questions.
Together with Mary, Mother of Christ, who
stood beneath the Cross(103),we pause beside all
the crosses of contemporary man.
We invoke all the Saints, who down the
centuries in a special way shared in the suffering of Christ. We
ask them to support us.
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 Blessing.
Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the
liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February 1984, in
the sixth year of my Pontificate.
JOHN PAUL II
(1) Col. 1, 24.
(2) Col. 1, 24.
(3) Rom. 8, 22.
(4) Cfr. IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Redemptor
Hominis, 14. 18. 21. 22.
(5) Quod Ezechias subiit (cfr. Is. 38, 1-3).
(6) Sic ut Agar timuit (cfr. Gen. 15,
16), Iacob mente finxit (cfr. Gen. 37, 33-35), David
expertus est (cfr. 2 Sam. 19, 1).
(7) Id Anna metuit, Tobiae mater (cfr. Tob.
10, 1-7; cfr. edam Ier. 6, 26; Am. 8, 10; Zac.
(8) Talis fuit Abrahae (cfr. Gen. 15, 2),
Rachelis (cfr. Gen. 30, 1), Annae, Samuelis matris (cfr.
1 Sam. 1, 6-10), temptatio.
(9) Ut exsulum Babylonica lamentatio (cfr. Ps.
(10) Quibus v. gr. affectus est Psaltes (cfr.
Ps. 22 , 17-21), Ieremias (cfr. Ier. 18, 18).
(11) Sic ut accidit Iob (cfr. Iob 19, 18;
30, 1. 9), nonnullis Psaltibus (cfr. Ps. 22 , 7-9;
Ps. 42 , 11; Ps. 44 , 16-17), Ieremiae (cfr.
Ier. 20, 7), Servo patienti (cfr. Is. 53, 3).
(12) Quibus iterum oppressi sunt nonnulli
Psaltes (cfr. Ps. 22 , 2-3; Ps. 31 , 13;
Ps. 38 , 12; Ps. 88 , 9. 19); Ieremias (cfr.
Ier. 15, 17) atque Servus patiens (cfr. Is. 53,
(13) His Psaltes (Ps. 51 , 5), testes
aerumnarum Servi (cfr. Is. 53, 3-6) et Zacharias Propheta
(cfr. Zac. 12, 10) confusi sunt.
(14) Talia passi sunt tum Psaltes (cfr. Ps.
73 , 3-14), tum Qoelet (cfr. Qo. 4, 1-3).
(15) Haec perpessi sunt sive Iob (cfr. Iob
19, 19), sive Psaltes nonnulli (cfr. Ps. 41 , 10;
Ps. 55 , 13-15), sive Ieremias (cfr. Ier. 20,
10); Siracides vero de hac miseria meditatur (cfr. Sir.
(16) Praeter plures Lamentationum locos,
cfr. psalmistarum questus (cfr. Ps. 44 , 10-17; Ps.
77 , 3-11; Ps. 79 , 11; Ps. 89 , 51),
prophetarum (cfr. Is. 22, 4; Ier. 4, 8; 13, 17;
14, 17-18; Ez. 9, 8; 21, 11-12). Cfr. etiam Azariae
orationes (cfr. Dan. 3, 31-40), et Danielis (cfr. Dan.
(17) Cfr. e. gr. Is. 38, 13; Ier.
23, 9; Ps. 31 (30), 10-11; Ps. 42 (41), 10-11.
(18) Cfr. Ps. 73 (72), 21; Iob 16,
13; Lam. 3, 13.
(19) Cfr. Lam. 2, 11.
(20) Cfr. Is. 16, 11; Ier. 4, 19;
Iob 30, 27; Lam. 1, 20.
(21) Cfr. 1 Sam. 1, 8; Ier. 4, 19;
8, 18; Lam. 1, 20-22; Ps. 38 (37), 9. 11.
(22) Meminisse iuvat radicem Hebraicam r"
designare in universum quod malum est et bono oppositum (ţōb),
nullamque admittere distinctionem inter sensum physicum,
psychicum, ethicum. Invenitur etiam in substantiva forma ra'
et rā'ā, significante sine discrimine sive quod malum est
in se, sive malam actionem, sive etiam male agentem. In formis
verbalibus praeter simplicem illam formam (qal), quae,
varia quidem ratione, designat « aliquid malum esse », invenitur
etiam forma reflexiva-passiva (niphal), id est « malum
subire », « maio corripi », atque forma causativa (hiphil),
« malum inferre » seu « irrogare » alicui. Cum autem careat
lingua Hebraica verbo Graecae formae respondente, idcirco
fortasse verbum id raro in versione a Septuaginta occurrit.
(23) Dan. 3, 27 s.; cfr. Ps. 17
(18), 10; Ps. 36 (35), 7; Ps. 48 (47), 12; Ps.
51 (50), 6; Ps. 99 (98), 4; Ps. 119 (118), 75;
Mal. 3, 16-21; Matth. 20, 16; Marc. 10, 31;
Luc. 17, 34; Io. 5, 30; Rom. 2, 2.
(24) Iob 4, 8.
(25) Iob 1, 9-11.
(26) Cfr. 2 Macc. 6, 12.
(27) Io. 3, 16.
(28) Iob 19, 25-26.
(29) 1, 29.
(30) Gen. 3, 19.
(31) Io. 3, 16.
(32) Act. 10, 38.
(33) Cfr. Matth. 5, 3-11.
(34) Cfr. Luc. 6, 21.
(35) Marc. 10, 33-34.
(36) Cfr. Matth. 16, 23.
(37) Ibid. 26, 52. 54.
(38) Io. 18, 11.
(39) Ibid. 3, 16.
(40) Gal. 2, 20.
(41) Is. 53, 2-6.
(42) Io. 1, 29.
(43) Is. 53, 7-9.
(44) Cfr. 1 Cor. 1, 18.
(45) Matth. 26, 39.
(46) Ibid. 26, 42.
(47) Ps. 22 (21), 2.
(48) Is. 53, 6.
(49) 2 Cor. 5, 21.
(50) Io. 19, 30.
(51) Is. 53, 10.
(52) Cfr. Io. 7, 37-38.
(53) Is. 53, 10-12.
(54) Iob. 19, 25.
(55) 1 Petr. 1, 18-19.
(56) Gal. 1, 4.
(57) 1 Cor. 6, 20.
(58) 2 Cor. 4, 8-11. 14.
(59) Ibid. 1, 5.
(60) 2 Thess. 3, 5.
(61) Rom. 12, 1.
(62) Gal. 2, 19-20.
(63) Ibid. 6, 14.
(64) Phil. 3, 10-11.
(65) Act. 14, 22.
(66) 2 Thess. 1, 4-5.
(67) Rom. 8, 17-18.
(68) 2 Cor. 4, 17-18.
(69) 1 Petr. 4, 13.
(70) Luc. 23, 34.
(71) Matth. 10, 28.
(72) 2 Cor. 12, 9.
(73) 2 Tim. 1, 12.
(74) Phil. 4, 13.
(75) 1 Petr. 4, 16.
(76) Rom. 5, 3-5.
(77) Cfr. Marc. 8, 35; Luc. 9, 24;
Io. 12, 25.
(78) Col. 1, 24.
(79) 1 Cor. 6, 15.
(80) Io. 3, 16.
(81) Luc. 9, 23.
(82) Cfr. ibid.
(83) Cfr. Matth. 7, 13-14.
(84) Luc. 21, 12-19.
(85) Io. 15, 18-21.
(86) Ibid. 16, 33.
(87) 2 Tim. 3, 12.
(88) Col. 1, 24.
(89) Cfr. Eph. 6, 12.
(90) Luc. 10, 29.
(91) Ibid. 10, 33-34.
(92) Gaudium et Spes, 24.
(93) Luc. 4, 18-19; cfr. Is. 61,
(94) Act. 10, 38.
(95) Matth. 25, 34-36.
(96) Ibid. 25, 40.
(97) Ibid. 25, 45.
(98) 1 Petr. 4, 13.
(99) Col. 1, 24.
(100) Gaudium et Spes, 22.
(101) Gaudium et Spes, 22.
(102) Cfr. Io. 17, 11. 21-22.
(103) Cfr. ibid. 19, 25.
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