The word “redeem” means to rescue, set free, ransom, and to pay the penalty incurred by another. We often lose sight of the definition to “set free,” and we miss the power of our example as Christians to do exactly that — set our neighbor free.
We must look at this aspect of Redemptive Suffering if we are to understand its role in our daily lives. St. Paul told the Corinthians that, “indeed, as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so, through Christ, does our consolation overflow. When we are made to suffer, it is for our consolation and salvation” (2 Cor. 1:5, 6).
Paul did not want the sufferings encountered by being a Christian to discourage or dishearten anyone. He realized that when Christians saw the blessings and grace that poured upon him after his many trials, they would gain courage to suffer in their turn. The example of fortitude and fidelity exhibited by this man of God released them from the fetters of fear and cowardice.
Paul knew that Christ’s example of every virtue was as redemptive as His death. By the example of his holy life, the Christian was to release and set his neighbor free from the bondage of sin in which he was immersed. Holiness reaches out to touch everyone and gives them the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. The Christian’s suffering was acceptable to the Father for the salvation of mankind because he was so united to Jesus through the grace of the Holy Spirit and because whatever he suffered, Jesus suffered in him. “It makes me happy,” Paul told the Colossians, “to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Col. 1:24). It is Jesus who continues to suffer in the Christian for the good of all mankind.
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