At the the foot of the cross, the Blessed Virgin Mary offered herself and her suffering in union with her Son for the salvation of the world. Many pope have stated both in clear and subtle language that Mary is co-redeemer with Christ her Son. What does this mean? Does the idea of Mary’s co-redemption take away from the redeeming work of Christ? The first thing to note is that Mary is not the redeemer of the world. she cooperates in the work of Jesus. Our lady does all and only that which is willed by her Son. She never goes beyond her means. Indeed all grace and salvation come to us from God, but God wills that we receive His help through the mediation of His chosen vessel, the Virgin Mary.
In the same way, all of the baptised are co-redeemers with Christ. Through baptism, we come to share in the redemptive mission of Our Lord. St. Paul made it clear in his letter to the Colossians that we “complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. We all know that nothing is lacking in the saving death of Our Lord. He accomplished it all from the wood of the cross, yet He desired that we would take an active part in His divine mission.
All of our suffering, prayers and penances are empty if it were not for the passion and death of Christ. What do we do when we pray for another person? We become co-redeemers with Christ. On their own, our prayers have no power, it is the power of Christ that makes them efficacious. Throughout Sacred Scripture, we can see co-redemption. Moses, Noah and Abraham are three Old Testament examples and in the New Testament there are other countless examples like the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, the Apostle in healing the sick and working all kinds of miracles. The prophets, apostles and Our Lady did nothing on their own, it was the power of God using them as collaborators in His work of redemption.
The priest is another example of co-redemption. When a priest offers a sacrament it is Christ who offers it through him. It is not the priest’s power but God’s – the priest is co-redeemer with the one he serves.
Like Mary, the prophets of old or today’s priests, we all share in the saving mystery of Christ according to God’s plan for the salvation of the world. In deed, He could have done it alone, but it was God’s choice to include man in His saving work. He did not need to use the Virgin of Nazareth to bring His Son into the world. The Second person of the Blessed Trinity could have dropped down from heaven in all of His glory, but He choose to use Mary as His lowly handmaid and He chooses to use us as His collaborators in His saving work today!