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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Bible says there is just one mediator --Jesus. So why do Catholics use saints as mediators?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,     
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37


 This Sunday's 2nd reading from 1 Timothy proclaims that, indeed, there is one mediator, and that is Christ Jesus:
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as ransom for all.
It would appear,then, that when we Catholics ask for the saints in heaven to intercede for us (that is, to mediate, or get in the middle of God and us) that we are usurping the role of Christ as the one mediator.  Why do we need to go through others, when Jesus is the one mediator?  

Do Catholics believe that Jesus needs help and can't get the job done without outside assistance?

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Rather, Catholics believe that Jesus is All Sufficient and doesn't need the intervention of anyone, saint or sinner, to accomplish His will.

In fact, Catholics give a hearty Amen to the fact that Jesus is the one mediator.

However, we are all participants in the One Mediation that Christ offered humanity through His atoning death on the cross 2000 years ago.  So when the saints intercede (or mediate) for us, it is only because they are united in the Body of Christ, and it is His Mediation which accomplished everything.  We here on earth also mediate for each other when we pray for each other.  Prayer chains are a form of mediation, or of getting in between our loved one and God, presenting our petitions before the Eternal Throne of Heaven.

Indeed, when Catholics ask the saints to pray for us in heaven, and pray for each other's intentions, we are actually being very Scriptural and following the commands in the Bible.  In fact, in the very same reading which professes that Jesus is the one mediator, we also read St. Paul proclaiming:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
Is this not St. Paul asking for the mediation of his companion, Timothy, (and probably all of the early Christian community) in this verse?  

Everything that the Body of Christ accomplishes is done only through our union through Him, with Him and in Him.  

So when St. Paul says that he saves some souls (yes, he, St. Paul, says that he saves souls.  Not Christ:  To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.  I have become all things to all, to save at least some.-1 Cor 9:22), we know that he means it only through his union with the One Savior.

So when St. Paul says he became our spiritual father, (I became your father in Jesus Christ through the Gospel -1 Cor 4:15), even though Scripture says that there is only One Father (Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven--Matt 23:9), we know it is because of his union with the One Father.

When Sts. Peter and Paul cure the sick and even raise the dead (see Acts 9 and 20), we know that it is not of their own power, but it is rooted in the power that belongs to God alone.

So when we act as mediators through our prayer chains and though the intercessory prayers at Mass, or  when the saints intercede for us, it is not a usurpation of the One Mediatorship of Christ.  Rather, it is merely a participation in His Mediatorship.

As apologist Jimmy Akin says:  
Jesus is certainly the only Mediator in the sense that he his the only God-man, the only Person who serves as a bridge between the human and the divine in that way, as 1 Timothy 2:5 (the verse you quote) indicates.
However, Jesus’ unique role as the only God-man does not mean that nobody else gets to pray for us. This is clear if you read 1 Tim. 2:1-4, in which Paul says that we should all pray for everybody. So in the very same passage that Paul describes Jesus as the one Mediator, he also says that we should all pray and intercede for others. This is what Mary and the other heavenly saints do for us, just as people down here on earth do.
When you ask another Christian here on earth to pray for you, you are asking an earthly saint to intercede on your behalf. When you ask Mary to pray for you, you are doing the exact same thing, only it is a heavenly saint instead. Protestants ask earthly saints to pray for them; Catholics simply broaden this to all of the family of God and ask out heavenly brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us as well as our brothers and sisters here on earth.
In fact, we know they pray for us already because, if you read Revelation 5:8, you will see the twenty-four elders (who represent the leaders of the people of God in heaven) offering to God the prayers of the saints. Thus we have the heavenly saints offering to God the prayers of the earthly saints. Thus we only ask our heavenly brothers and sisters to do what they are already anxious to do on our behalf, just as our earthly brother and sister Christians wish to pray for us whenever we are in need.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

One Mediator between God and Man

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15   

9 comments:

  1. i thought catholic used the book of hebrews- 4 this verification, using the verse -- we have a great cloud of wittnesses,

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    1. Firstly, we do not use verses for verification of our doctrine. The Catholic Church was whole and entire before a single word of the NT was ever put to writ.

      Thus, our doctrines come from Christ and His Apostles, not from the pages of a Book, no matter how holy this Book is. The Bible supports that which was already given, once and for all, to the Church.

      However, it is true that Hebrews does indeed profess that the saints in heaven are our "cloud of witnesses".

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  2. I read the daily meditations from Divine Intimacy and reading the last few days I thought of your blog and in particular this post. Here are some selected thoughts from some of the meditations.....

    The Church is the society of the faithful.....we are the Church, therefore it is incumbent upon each one of us to cooperate in the diffusion of grace in souls.

    Jesus can sanctify souls without help from anyone, just as He created everything out of nothing, but He wills to need us and our poor works and He invites us and begs us to sacrifice ourselves with Him for the salvation of others.

    In the plan established by God for the salvation of men, the activity of the apostle is necessary, but not sufficient. Only God can give increase.

    The dogma of the Communion of Saints tells us precisely that the grace and holiness of one of Christ's members necessarily redounds to the advantage of all the other members.

    When we pray for the aims of the apostolate, we are fitting into the plan prearranged by God Himself from all eternity, that plan for the salvation of all men which God desires to put into action infinitely more than we do. Therefore we cannot doubt the efficacy of our prayer.

    God Bless!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, johnny. Good thoughts!

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  3. Friday's Gospel was interesting also. I never really noticed it before. Luke 10:15.....

    And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead.

    This along with Mark 12:26-27.....

    And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”

    Points to the Communion of Saints, no?

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  4. I ask people to pray for me because the bible says to do it. Moses didn't lift up a prayer to a dead person but respected a person. Name me one person who prayed to the dead? Not one and that isn't biblical. God is the only one that deserves your prayers! Mary is blessed because she was chosen but no where not even in that does it say to pray to her! Only one that you should be praying to is the father just like Jesus said. Obey Jesus and not a tradition of people. That's biblical. If Mary is so important to my salvation why didn't Jesus tell us this? Why didn't any of the apostles tell us this? Why didn't Jesus call her mother ? But he called her women.

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    1. I think the problem is that you equate prayer with worship.

      Prayer can be a form of worship, but it also can merely be a means of petitioning someone.

      And so when we pray to saints we aren't worshipping them, but are merely petitioning them, just like we petition members of our churches to pray for us.

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    2. As far as naming one person who prayed to the dead--why does that have to be in the Bible?

      I can assure you that you can't name one person who celebrated Christmas in the Bible, and yet you still do that.

      I can assure you that you can't name one person who was married in a church in front of a minister in the Bible, and yet you still participate in this ceremony.

      In fact, how is it that your pastor knows what to say in a wedding ceremony? That is not in the Bible!

      So it is peculiar that you would demand that Catholics be held to a standard which you yourself do not hold.

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    3. As far as why didn't Jesus or the apostles tell us to pray to Mary if it was so important? Well, I guess I could ask, "Why didn't Jesus or the apostles say to read the Bible, if that's so important?"

      And why didn't Jesus or the apostles say that the Epistle to the Hebrews belongs in the Bible, if that is so important?

      The Catholic answer is: because Jesus left us a Church, not a book, to guide us.

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