Blessed Virgin Mary: Unique Cooperator in the Redemption

Updated: May 30, 2020

1. Introduction

God’s redemptive love of self-gift in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and humanity’s response to this unconditional love is the core of salvation history. In this redemptive schema, human persons at different historical stages have responded either creatively by their life and mission or destructively by their selfishness and pride. Jesus Christ, being the God-Man, is the perfect response to God’s love-gift. Blessed Mary, being the Mother of God and Mother of humanity has, of course, played a unique role in salvation history. That is why Karl Rahner rightly stated:

“Christianity is the only religion that needs a Mother.” To highlight her unique cooperation in redemptive history, the title “Mary as Coredemptrix” has been used in Christian theology for many years. The title as such is highly controversial, yet Mary’s unique place in salvation history is central to any understanding of the role of humanity, and in particular that of the Church, especially that of the Syro-Malabar Church. Such understanding would help us to continue Christ’s redemptive act in today’s world of suffering and exploitation. Our focus therefore is to further explore this mystery of Mary’s cooperation in the Redemption, explaining its meaning and modality with a special reference to the life and mission of the Syro-Malabar Church.

2. Jesus in Salvation History

In an abundance of love, the Triune God created the human person in His image and likeness to share His love with him/her, and through him/her to translate it to others including the cosmos. S/he, misusing the God-given gift of freedom, rejected this unconditional love offered to him/her. God decided to be incarnated in Jesus Christ to redeem the whole humanity from sin and to restore the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus Christ, by his unique act of sacrifice on the Cross, fulfilled in the resurrection, has become the unique redeemer of the world, and thus the unique mediator between God and humanity. St. Paul thus tells us, “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:5-6).

3. Humanity in Salvation History

Redemption brought about by Christ has yet to become a reality in each individual member of the human race. Jesus Christ objectively accomplished our Redemption but our salvation is not effective in each human person until the grace of Redemption has been experienced. It means that the individual or subjective Redemption, as the sovereign gift of Triune God, has to be received by human persons. Schillebeeckx states that the state of “being redeemed” always consists of human co-operation. Each human person, with regard to his own Redemption, may be called a kind of “co-redeemer.” The individual shares in the Redemption according to the extent of his free consent to the objective gift of redeeming grace. In this sense, he is a “co-operator” with Christ in the act of Redemption (1). St. Thomas thus says: Qui creavit te sine te, which St. Augustine reaffirmed saying: non redemit te sine te: “Created without our intervention, we cannot be personally redeemed without our cooperation.” Thus each human person is personally invited to respond to this call of salvation for the realization of God’s Kingdom here on earth.

4. Mary in Salvation History

As seen already, each Christian has been redeemed but s/he has yet to appropriate to herself/himself her/his personal Redemption by responding to God’s saving grace. As a member of human race, Mary also had