The Redemptive Nature of Suffering

John 16:20-23
Acts 18:9-18 / Ps 47

Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you.
(John 16:22)

Just as labor precedes a new life,
We’ll find meaning in our suffering;
Grief and pain in this world may be rife,
But there’s always joy in the morning.

Jesus said to His disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (John 16:20-23)

Reflection

Jesus knew the pain that His apostles would undergo when He was taken away from them, so He consoled them with these words: “You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” (Jn.16:20-21)

A few years ago, my wife Ollie had been bothered by pains and stiffness in her neck, shoulders, lower back and legs. She had undergone all kinds of tests, which all turned out to be negative (thank God), and consulted a number of doctors and physical therapists who could not find the cause of her pains other than saying that at her age, it could only be arthritic osteoporosis. Prescribed medicines and alternative herbal substitutes had not helped improve her miserable condition.

In one of the prayer healing sessions that we attended one day, some leaders of the Divine Mercy Apostolate told her not to worry, as she was not really afflicted by any ailment, but was merely undergoing something called “redemptive suffering”. They told her to “just lift them up” for some poor souls in purgatory, or for the healing/recovery of a very sick person who was close to us.

What is redemptive suffering? Church mystics have written about this as a special privilege that God gives to spiritual persons to share in Jesus’ suffering on the cross for the special intentions of the Church (redemption of souls, healing of the sick). St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) was a classic example who bore his stigmata wounds till the end of his life. St. Paul, who also bore “a thorn on his side” was so inspired by the redemptive power of suffering that he said, “I find joy in the sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Col. 1:24). I told my wife how fortunate she was to be in such good company. That was when I decided to sacrifice my long runs and started the “walking the wife routine,” and after a few days, all her aches were gone. We’ve been walking together 3 or 4 times a week ever since.

The only cause of my death is my zeal for the Church of God, which devours and consumes me. Accept, O Lord, the sacrifice of my life for the Mystical Body of Thy holy Church. (St. Catherine of Siena) Amen.

Comments are closed.