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The Intercessory Power of Mary

mary.mother.of.jesus.01The marriage feast of Cana is also demonstrative of Mary’s powerful solicitation or intercession with her Son. We often concentrate on the miraculous change of water into wine. Certainly, this was a sign that would start people wondering about Jesus and what his mission among them might be. But, more immediately, the witnesses would have every reason to ponder about Mary’s role. It was at her urging that Jesus worked his first miracle. Who was this woman who brought this wonder-worker to them and could compel him to do such things? As always, Mary’s involvement would draw disciples to her Son and precipitate faith in him.

Catholicism both emphasizes the unique and essential role of Jesus as the Mediator and acknowledges that there are various lesser and dependent or secondary forms of mediation. For instance, ordained priests and the sacraments access the primary salvific act of Christ but through men configured to the great high priest and through elements or mysteries instituted by our Lord for these purposes. We pray for one another and beseech the intercession of the saints. We add our crosses to that of Christ and seek to make reparation for offenses against the loving heart of Jesus. Mary’s involvement is considered so important that she has been given a devotional title that seems to mirror her Son’s as the Mediator. Mary is called the Mediatrix of Graces. Her function is entirely secondary, contingent and subordinate to her Son. She is of the same mind and heart with him. She offers us Christ in Bethlehem and will extend her arms to hold him when he is taken down from the Cross, offering him again to us. She only wants what her Son wants, the forgiveness of sins and the redemption of a people. Mary cooperates with her Son in building up his kingdom. We all are called to imitate Mary in bringing others into an encounter and unity with Jesus Christ. How can believers possibly say they love their neighbor if they are passive or disinterested in facilitating such meetings with Christ? It is no wonder that a sterilized non-Catholic form of Christianity tends on one hand to dismiss Mary and on the other to so internalize or privatize religion that ignorance of Christ in others is tolerated and no move is made to introduce them to our saving God. The failure to cooperate with God and to evangelize is a failure to love. No one comes to the truth alone. Everything is mediated. We pass on what we have because what we have matters. Nothing compares to the acquisition of the Greatest Good. We can gain money, fame, power and possessions; but if we do not have God, then we really have nothing. Speaking personally, this is why I became a priest: for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of souls. All those who focus on these objectives will remain in union with Christ and rightly have a devotion to Mary. The particular difference between Mary’s mediation and that of others is based upon her maternal identity.

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One Response

  1. The bible says ‘there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ’ This whole article is not biblical. There is not mediatrix of grace, the is only one way to the father, Jesus Christ, his atoning sacrafice. Mary was blessed among women and she obeyed God and had great faith that he would protect her through what she agreed to do. She is in heaven and the bible says the dead are unaware of the goings on on earth. The assumption into heaven was made Catholic doctrine in 1950 and is also unbiblical. Maybe she was assumed into heaven, either way, she cannot hear our prayers. You mention the central part being her maternal nature. You imply that God is lacking in this aspect of nature. We were created in the image of God and he is referred to as male but he is spirit and possesses the nature of both the very best father AND the very best mother. There is no need for anything but him. Mary is so important to the story of Jesus but the bible strongly implies she was not ever virgin when it states Joseph did not know her until she has given birth to Jesus, they wis also mention of Jesus actual siblings. The catholic view of Mary is distorted and I have seen some truth idolatrous imagery and some quite worrying. All non biblical and all more reminiscent of Isis or Juno or any other goddess of ancient myth.

    FATHER JOE:

    Intercession or mediation in the Old Testament was made by Abraham and Moses.

    Genesis 18:22-32 – Abraham talks down the number of righteous he must find to save Sodom from divine retribution. He intercedes for the people

    Exodus 32:7-14/ Deuteronomy 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27/ Psalms 106:23 – Moses implored God not to destroy his people because of their idolatry. We are told that God relented.

    Jesus would descend to the abode of the dead and take the righteous with him into heaven. The dead are alive in Christ and can intercede to God just as we can who walk the earth.

    1 Timothy 2: 1-6

    First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.

    Revelation 8:3-4

    Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.

    Revelation 5:7-8

    He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.

    Acts 2:26-28

    Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

    Psalm 16:9-11

    Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

    1 Corinthians 15:20-24

    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.

    Luke 23: 39-43

    Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    Your view is representative of a particular branch of Protestant interpretation; however, the position is in conflict with both the corporate nature of Judaism and the biblical-historical origins of Catholic-Christianity as a Church and/or communion of believers with definite ministries instituted by Christ. I have already mentioned the role of Mary at the wedding feast of Cana and her obvious effective intercession. Distinctions must be made, as well, with variant understandings of Mediation, particularly making room for prayerful intercession.

    Christ is affirmed in the article as the one Mediator or bridge to the Father. As the old catechism relates, it is Jesus who opens the gates of heaven. The priest at Mass participates in the priesthood of Christ and makes his saving person and activity present. We can pray for each other as a family. Your stark view would deny any and all intercessory prayer.

    It is indeed true that Jesus has redeemed us by his Cross. Language sometimes becomes a bit convoluted. There is a universal call to salvation made possible by Christ’s sacrifice and Gospel. But Mary, the saints, and the living Church exerts a secondary causality. The books of the Bible are collected, translated and circulated. Parents teach their children their prayers and about Jesus. We bring each and every generation to the sacraments and the family of the Church. We walk with others in the joys and in their sorrow. We help each other to be the Christians we were called to be. Everyone who evangelizes or teaches catechesis is an intercessor with Christ. Just as our Lord took to himself a human body to render his mediation to save us; so too does he use his priests, the supper he instituted and the family of believers to extend and realize the fruits of his oblation to each and every generation. Everything is mediated in the material world. Such is at the heart to a genuine understanding of the incarnation. The spiritual infusion of truth and grace is not the ordinary way that God works. We are men and women, not angels. Such is also a truth behind the Catholic use of symbols and images.

    Mary is “body and soul” in heaven. This is true. But the Bible does not say that the dead are unaware. Soul sleep is usually associated with the Adventists who reject the notion of an immortal soul and hell. There is no amnesia or coma of the spirit after death.

    The Pope has no power to contrive doctrine. While the dogma of the Assumption was declared late in history, it had been believed from the earliest days. It was experienced and testified by the apostolic Church. It was only when various non-Catholic critics challenged it that the mystery was explicitly defined. Mary is assumed body and soul into heaven by the power of her Son. Such was God’s gift to her as the new Eve and “full of grace.”

    The parallel with Mary is not with God the Father but with Adam. Christ is the new Man (Adam) and Mary is reckoned as the new Eve. Christ offers his flesh on the Cross and she follows him on Calvary. Her YES at the annunciation is repeated and extended to our Lord’s self-offering on the Cross.

    God is the Creator and he is the source of our re-creation. God comes to save us in Jesus Christ. However, while Jesus takes to himself our nature, he is male and not female or androgynous. The word nature may be used in many ways… right and wrong. God as God has a divine nature and is neither male nor female. Positing parallel gender in the eternal godhead is something one sees in Oriental religion (Taoist Yin Yang). This is absolutely heretical to orthodox Christianity!

    The testimony about Mary’s virginity is clear. She tells us that she does not know man. The Bible tells us that she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. She becomes the holy ground of God. Joseph appreciated this and respected her saving role. Oddities of language and translation give us the expression “until” she had given birth to Christ. It does not imply that Mary and Joseph subsequently had relations. Indeed, the Bible tells us that some of these brethren of Christ had different mothers. The word for “brothers and sisters” was frequently the same as that used for cousins. Jesus did not know a modern nuclear family. Families in the time of Christ were extended with many generations and relations living in the same household. Note that Mary is never called “the mother” of the brethren with her. The text struggles to make this distinction. Even when some think they know Jesus, we hear “is this not the carpenter’s son?” He is not noted as “one of his sons.” Further, at the Cross, Jesus entrusts the apostle John with Mary. He is literally telling him to take care of her. This would have made no sense if she literally had other children to do so. The early Church consistently taught the “perpetual” virginity of Mary. This sacred tradition goes back to the beginning. If it were not the case, they would have known. The Catholic Church passed on an oral tradition but we even have documents that are older than parts of the Bible.

    The distortion is yours because you represent a historical break from the institution and message of the Church. As with the issue of icons, you return to questions resolved in the earliest centuries. The economy of images changes because of the incarnation. God took to himself a human face. Now the things of nature can convey something of the mysteries of heaven.

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