A Question for the Day

| | Comments (9)

And I am asking for insight and opinions:

from In Conversation with God
Francis Fernandez

There is a third way of carrying the cross. Jesus embraces the saving wood and teaches us how we ought to carry our own cross: with love, co-redeeming all souls with him, making reparation at the same time for our own sins. Our Lord has conferred on human suffering a deep meaning. Being able, as he was, to redeem us in a multitude of ways, he chose to do so through suffering. . .

Do we co-redeem with Christ? Is this truly church teaching? I don't ask because it sounds bad, but because it sounds big and odd. I accept it as the truth and I struggle to understand how what I do contributes to the redemption of anyone. I could lead someone to Christ, but Christ is the redeemer. Am I co-redeemer in that capacity or in something more? This whole statement puzzles and excites me. To be a co-redeemer is such an opportunity and a challenge. At the same time I must truly understand what it means if I am to undertake and do it properly.

Any thoughts on this matter? Any insights? I'd appreciate anything anyone has to add to this--theological, spiritual, or just casual. Thanks.

Bookmark and Share



I will need to do some homework to flesh this out but the answer is yes. We are co-redeemers with Jesus, by His grace and command...

Doesn't everything we do affect the entire Body of Christ? Because, if so, then as we work toward our own redemption, we necessarily are working toward the redemption of the Body of Christ. So, under those circumstances, I'd say that we probably are co-redeemers. This is off the top of my head but you asked for all kinds of responses...


I think part of the problem here may be the term "co-redeemer" -- it sounds as though Christ redeems some people, and I redeem other people, which is clearly false. Obviously no one is redeemed without Him. On the other hand, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, to desire and work for their good, to pray for them, to be charitable toward them. For what purpose, if not to participate in their redemption? For our own sanctification, certainly, but also for theirs. I don't see that we can escape the reality that we have the ability to help other people to Heaven, and in that sense, at least, we are co-redeemers, although to paraphrase St. Paul, it is not us, but Christ that lives in us.

I love the way Rosalind Moss answered this one:

When we are little and want to help mom in the kitchen or dad in the garage, don't they give us something simple to do to help them even though our loving parents could easily get along without our help? This is how we learn and become strong and mature - by doing things that our teachers could do better. God, it seems, loves to give His children important jobs to do so that they might grow into them and become the sons and daughters that He wants us to be. Almost every blessing we receive in life comes through the will of God acting through human or angelic agency. Could God have done all of this Himself? Of course! But His loving will has been to give us each some unique task to do in our lives and to discover that destiny is the adventure of our lives.

JP2, Salvifici Doloris, paragraph 19; this letter would make mighty fine Holy Week reading.

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.

Emphasis in original.

I suspect that it depends on what "co-redeemer" means. For some precision, I think that we can look at an excerpt from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission's statement on "Salvation and the Church":

"The Church is also an instrument for the realisation of God's eternal design, the salvation of humanity. While we recognise that the Holy Spirit acts outside the community of Christians, nevertheless it is within the Church, where the Holy Spirit gives and nurtures the new life of the Kingdom, that the Gospel becomes a manifest reality. As this instrument, the Church is called to be a living expression of the Gospel, evangelised and evangelising, reconciled and reconciling, gathered together and gathering others. In its ministry to the world the Church seeks to share with all people the grace by which its own life is created and sustained.

"The Church is therefore called to be, and by the power of the Spirit actually is, a sign, steward and instrument of God's design. For this reason it can be described as sacrament of God's saving work. However, the credibility of the Church's witness is undermined by the sins of its members, the shortcomings of its human institutions, and not least by the scandal of division. The Church is in constant need of repentance and renewal so that it can be more clearly seen for what it is: the one, holy body of Christ. Nevertheless the Gospel contains the promise that despite all failures the Church will be used by God in the achievement of his purpose: to draw humanity into communion with himself and with one another, so as to share his life, the life of the Holy Trinity." (n28-29)

So, perhaps we can say:

1. We, as members of the Body of Christ, are "co-redeemers" insofar as we are - through practices such as suffering - "signs, stewards, and instruments of God's design," concrete and "living expressions" of the "once-for-all atoning work of Christ."

2. We are not "co-redeemers" if by that we mean that our suffering represents more than signification, more than "a sign and foretaste of God's Kingdom," itself incapable of either "altering the content or minimising the demands" of the Gospel. "For the Church is servant and not master of what it has received."

3. We are not "co-redeemers" if by that we imagine that our suffering is somehow exempt from "human imperfection and limitation" - the personal sins of the sufferer, the shortcomings of the human institutions to which he belongs, the scandal of division in which we are all implicated. Suffering itself always needs to be renewed and purified and is itself part of a "world still awaiting its consummation."

I probably should add at this point that I don't really know what I'm talking about.


it's a Body of Christ thing -- and it's so beautiful it hurts.

I think Smockmomma said it best.

A concrete application of the mystery might be seen in the fact that we can offer effective prayer for the souls in purgatory, in particular through obtaining indulgences on their behalf. I "speed up" a soul's fulfillment of redemption by performing an objectively insignificant act, which draws its value from the merits of the Church, all of which are obtained for the Church by Christ.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 7, 2004 11:42 AM.

A Meditation on the Cross and Stigmata was the previous entry in this blog.

Prayer Requests--Holy Thursday is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll