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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Jesus, Mary & the Apostles

A discussion with Paul on some matters about which he has a dispute.

PAUL: What is the true meaning and definition of being an Apostle of Jesus?

FATHER JOE:  There are varied definitions given but Catholicism would tend to restrict the term to the chief Disciples of Christ.  The Church is apostolic in the succession of Holy Orders through the “laying on” of hands, in the perpetuation  of Jesus’ ministry and in our constant teaching from the deposit of faith revealed to the early Church and passed down to us.

PAUL: Doesn’t it mean walking with and following the actual person you are trying to emulate?

FATHER JOE:  Yes, but that is a generic dictionary definition of the word apostle, not a theological or doctrinal distinction.

PAUL: I think that we have been called disciples and based on the true meaning of apostle, no one on earth, at least present day earth, can be called an apostle.

FATHER JOE:  The Catholic Church believes the authority of the Apostles is passed to the Bishops of the Church.  Pope Francis is singular among the Bishops because he is viewed as the Successor of Saint Peter (and for that matter, Saint Paul).

PAUL: So if Jesus, as the Catholic Church says, interchangeably meditates/intercedes for us to the Father then why do we also need Mary to pray/intercede/meditate for us? In regard to Jesus this is biblically based as is the fact that the Holy Spirit speaks to the Father in groans that words cannot express. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in full nature also God.

FATHER JOE: 

(I think by “meditates” you actually mean “mediates.”)

The problem with your statement is that it does not sufficiently express Catholic teaching.  The Word became flesh and in his mortal life Jesus revealed to us the face of God, how to pray and how to live out our discipleship.  He prayed in his humanity because it is an essential element to the incarnation and our humanity.  However, after his Paschal Mystery (suffering, death and resurrection), Jesus the Lord ascended to his place at the right hand of the Father.  He transforms and facilitates our approach to the Father.  We do not ask Jesus to pray to God for us because he is God.  We address our prayers to the Father in Jesus’ name.

Jesus is a divine Person, as is the Father and Holy Spirit.  There are three eternal generations in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember the classical definition from the councils of the Church:  there are three divine Persons but one divine Nature in God.  God is still one.

We can intercede and pray for each other.  Indeed, Mary and the saints in heaven can do so for us still in earthly pilgrimage.  God is still the direct object of all prayer, even intercessory.  Asking others to pray for us does not displace God from his dais.  We are all creatures, even the angels, although they are spiritual and not composites like ourselves.  The saints of heaven share in our Lord’s risen life and continue to love us and to pray for us

The mediation of Christ is not interchangeable with sanctoral intercession.  Christ is the Mediator, Lord, Redeemer and Savior.  We approach him both individually and with a communal faith.  The latter is very much the purpose for which he instituted the Church.  We do not approach God alone.  Just as God called to himself an Old Testament people— so too does he claim the Church as a new People of God.  Church membership includes the faithful on earthly pilgrimage, the souls in purgation and the saints of heaven.

We offer our prayers to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.  Christ is the bridge between heaven and earth.  He is the Way and the Truth and the Life.  If it were not for the Holy Spirit there could be no faith and no prayer.  We could not say “Jesus is Lord” if it were not given us by the Holy Spirit.

PAUL: By the way, I find NO biblical reference to Mary being our spiritual mother. Thank you.

FATHER JOE:  I have already written at great length about the Blessed Mother and would invite you to search the pages of my site.  Mary is given to us as our Mother at the Cross through our emissary Saint John.  A phrase I repeat again and again is that “the Mother of the Redeemer becomes the Mother of all the Redeemed.”  Mary will always be the Mother of Jesus.  Believers are members of the Mystical Body of Christ (which is extremely biblical).  Mary is the Mother of Christ where ever he should be found.  If we are grafted to Christ and have been transformed by grace into his likeness then she sees something of her Son alive in us.  We imitate Christ’s filial relationship of love to Mary.  We are made members of the royal household of God.  Through faith and baptism we are made adopted sons and daughters of the Father.  Thus, Christ the King becomes our elder brother in faith and Mary assumes her crown as the Queen Mother.  Peace!

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One Response

  1. There is no biblical reference at all that Mary or any other human who served God while on earth and has died, makes intercession for the living. 1 Timothy 2:5 says For there is one God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Although it sounds really good that a motherly figure is interceding for us, it is not biblical and is dangerous to teach this doctrine. I was born and raised in the Catholic church but it wasn’t until I actually started reading scripture when God revealed to me the meaning of His word. I suggest that everybody who loves God study His word and ask the Holy Spirit, who leads us to truth, for guidance and revelation. Do not believe any man , no matter how good it sounds or how it appeals to our senses.

    FATHER JOE:

    Until the coming of Christ, the righteous dead were in the limbo of the fathers. The damned suffered hell. Jesus is our Mediator and Redeemer. He opens the gates of heaven. He is the bridge or way for us in our approach to the Father. Thus while intercessory prayer is an element from the sources of revelation, it weighs heavily upon the apostolic and patristic tradition. Except for the Acts of the Apostles, the Book of Revelation and the Epistles, the Bible refers to matters prior to the saving work and resurrection of Jesus. Critics often fail to acknowledge this transition, as well as how the coming of Christ facilitates a transition from the Saturday Sabbath to the Sunday Observance as well as a liberalization regarding the status of images. Those who reject intercessory prayer often have a deficient ecclesiology. Our union in the Church is not ruptured by mortal death.

    The saints of heaven pray with and for us. John reports this vision: “The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8).

    Intercessory prayer takes nothing away from the mediation of Christ. We pray for one another but all prayer is directed to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The saints of heaven and the holy ones still on their earthly pilgrimage make their appeal through Jesus Christ. We come to God, not as isolated individuals, but as a faith community.

    Like I said before, a mother never stops being a mother. We are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Mary loves her Son in us and we love her as members of Christ’s body. He is the head and we are the body. This is a profound unity.

    You are right that God’s children should trust him before embracing the folly of men. But you are the man to whom they should not listen. I suspect it was not the Bible that separated you from your Catholic faith, but rather an ignorance that others exploited. Dollars to donuts, your defection came at the behest of bigots who distorted the sources of Christian doctrine and God’s holy Word. I know the Bible and read it every day. It reaffirms my Catholic faith because I appreciate the role of the teaching Church and those who translate the sacred texts. Can you even read the original Greek of the New Testament? What do you know of the history of God’s people and the early fathers?

    Catholics and Protestants might honestly disagree about certain tenets of faith. But we can acknowledge the love of Jesus we share and view each other as brothers and sisters. We can dialogue in a serious and rational fashion. You came to my blog for different reasons, not to build up but to destroy.

    It saddens me that those who have been blinded would feign seeing and leading others through the darkness. I will keep you in prayer.

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