Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is Christ the One Mediator Between God and Man?

Today I’m thinking about the disagreement between the Catholic faith and some other Christian faiths regarding whether Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man or whether we can ask each other and/or the saints in heaven for intercession.  The non-Catholic position on this is derived solely from the following passage from Scripture:  “For there is one God.  There is also one mediator between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.”  (1 Tim 2:5-6).  On the surface, it would seem that St. Paul is telling us that if we want help in praying to God, we only have one option and that is to use Jesus Christ as a mediator, an intercessor. 

The problem is that immediately prior to writing that statement in the letter to Timothy, St. Paul writes this:  “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone … .”  (1 Tim 2,1).  In other words, he is asking us to pray for others, thus using us as a mediator.  One might think that the two passages are in conflict.  Thinking of the two passages together, I think we can all agree that he is asking us to pray while not thinking of us as a mediator, i.e., still using Jesus as the sole mediator in the process.  Yes!  The Catholic position, then, is that it is okay, and even encouraged, to ask others to offer prayers of petition and thanksgiving for us.  And, of course, Catholics take this to also mean that we can ask the saints in heaven to pray for us as well, with the understanding that they also use Jesus as the sole mediator.  This opens it up for us to be able to ask, for example, the Blessed Mother, St. Peter, St. John, and all the saints (even St. Paul), besides our friends and relatives, to pray for us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states it as follows (excerpt taken from CCC paragraph 2635):  "Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another – has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy.  In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints."  Christian intercession participates in Christ’s!  That's it!  That's the answer!

Recently, a friend of mine stated that he does not pray at all, for anything, not even if others, such as a grieving widow, were to ask for his prayers.  He gave no apology or any reason for this.  I was left to believe that he has no thought of a higher power that may help him and others through the earthly journey.  And, yes, I pray for him that one day he will come to know Christ, God, and discover the power and the value of faith and prayer.  Amen.

The photograph shows Catholics praying before the tomb of St. Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, asking for his intercession in union with Christ's.

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