Salvific suffering, (the one that brings us joy, freedom and happiness) like the vicarial suffering of Christ (a suffering which is not deserved but nevertheless accepted out of love for the other) is a suffering that could lead us transform ourselves to grow into new persons and be agents of transformation in our society.
There are other kinds suffering that are not salvific. Why? Because they are caused by an egoistic self love or a desire to love ourselves inordinately. If one desires and expensive cell phone, for example, even if he/she does not need one, and due to his/her lack of funds – could not acquire it – this could cause a suffering to the one who desires it. This does not lead him/her to love God as He should be loved. This desire could even stray him/her away from Him since he/she loves more the cell phone than God himself. This kind of suffering, if not overcome, could lead to sadness and unhappiness and therefore not salvific.
There are sufferings however that could lead us to a certain union with if one is loving God and one’s neighbor. When you fast so that you could give your savings to buy food to the hungry, or if you were hurting since your were offended but tries of offer this suffering to the love of God and pardon that person who offended you, this suffering is salvific. It leads you to a union with God and therefore a reconciliation with one’s neighbor. All the suffering and inconveniences that you do to make a spiritual or corporal work of mercy are all salvific. This leads to freedom, happiness and joy.
Often there is a tendency in all of us to escape from this salvific suffering since it appears to us as a negative reality. This abhorence to this kind suffering is understandable. If one whoever sees in this suffering the sufferings of Christ who assumed all the sufferings in this world, inside and outside of us; and if we are already putting into practice the first commandment: to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, then it would be easier to embrace this kind of suffering, since you are embracing, in fact, not the suffering but the very person whom you love: Christ.
This decision to embrace this kind of suffering even if it is not derserved (vicarial) the suffering itself sometimes disappears and what remains is your love for God and your neighbor. Often what remains is love not suffering since your love is stronger. This also makes us grow spiritually to become more mature in being a disciple of Christ and be united with Him.
Seeing for example the injustices that caused a lot of poverty and suffering of many people, when embraced and taken to oneself with peace and calm, make us one with our suffering neighbors, the least, the little, the migrants, victims of calamities, violence, etc and this makes us see everything with a peaceful. Moreover, it pushes us to love more and leads our hearts involve ourselves in their personal or communitarian history in order to make a society more just and according to the will of God, in Christ and through Christ, i.e., in loving more like Christ.
Another suffering which is salvific, as noted, is what is called vicarial suffering. When one suffers not because of his/her fault, but is caused by the sin of the others. This is like the suffering of our Lord. Though sinless, he suffered and took into himself the effects of sin, though He did not deserved it. He welcomed this tremendous suffering out of love for us, into his body, soul and spirit that lead Him to the Cross, He died but with His death, he conquered all the sufferings and even death itself since through His resurrection, He transformed all suffering into love. This is not easy to understand if you don’t try to unite our with His suffering.
We participate in this kind of vicarial suffering when, though without fault of our own, for example, we suffer due to another’s failure to love or sinfulness. In front of this suffering we are invited to unite this same suffering with the sufferings of Christ and transform it together with Him the onr who died with these pain but rose again towards a new life. In other words, when we see Christ in our suffering and continue to love with Him on the cross, our suffering becomes salvific. It makes us to be like Him but risen. This contributes more than we imagine, to the transformation of the world.
We are always invited not to add more sufferings in this world by egoistic and selfish love that causes unnecessary sufferings in our families and communities through our lack or absence of love. Together let us allow our Lord, to use our sufferings, salvific or vicarial, so that together we could transform ourselves in to a more loving persons in order to contribute a little to make our families, our communities and our environment a better place to live in.
These kind of sufferings could make us participate in the resurrection of Christ who is now in heaven, and we could also say: if we are with Him, the risen Lord, we, as it were, are in fact with Him also in heaven while we are here on earth. With this we could transform this earth, a valley full of tears into little heaven here on earth and contribute for the salvation of the world and make it more joyful, peaceful,and just.
We dont need to invent unnecessary personal or social suffering which comes from our selfish and egoitic love. We need to contribute through these vicarial and salvific sufferings in order to make this world a better place to live in.