Some of our Protestant friends have a difficult time removing the concept of “mediation” between humanity and God from a zero-sum construct. In other words, either Christ and Christ alone successfully mediates for man, in which case not a crumb can be added to it, or there is no mediation whatsoever. When Protestants hear Catholics try to explain the unique mediation of Christ and the secondary mediation of the Saints “in and through Christ,” what they hear is often a person who they think is straining to avoid the obvious error of innumerable mediators between God and man. It is alright, I’ve been there, and I understand where Protestants are coming from when they feel this way. Well, I’m not here to necessarily stop that today. But, perhaps hearing that strain from St. Augustine might at least serve the day with a change of speaker. You’ll notice below that just like Christ can be said to be the *only* Shepherd, this does not preclude the fact that we have Shepherds in the Apostles, Prophets, and various pastors. However, this doesn’t amount to multiple shepherdships, but simply instantiations of one single Shepherdship “in Christ”. In the same way, we really only have one Advocate, but all Christians who suffer or give sacrifice for another in the body of Christ are also advocates because they offer their merits in the matrix of Christ’s redeeming body, and so they can be legitimate called advocates and mediators, but not amounting to multiple mediator-ships, but rather instances of one mediator-ship “in Christ”. Mental gymnastics? Well, if St. Augustine is working out in that gymnasiusm, then count me in forever 😀
St. Augustine states:”The justice of the martyr is perfect, because they have been perfected by their sufferings. That’s why they aren’t prayed for in the Church. The other faithful departed are prayed for, not the martyrs; they left the world, you see, so perfected that they are not our dependents, but our advocates. And this too, not in themselves, but in the one to whom as their head they ahve stuck close as his members. He, you see, is indeed the one advocate, who intercedes for us, seated at the right hand of the Father, but the one adovate in the same way as the one shepherd. Because ‘I must’, he said, ‘bring those sheep too, which are not of this fold’. So Christ is a shepherd, Peter not a shepherd? Indeed Peter too is a sheperd, and all others like him are without the slightest doubt shepherds, pastors. I mean, if he isn’t a shepherd, how can he be told, ‘Feed my sheep’? But all the same, the real shepherd is the one who feeds his own sheep. Peter, you see, was not told ‘Feed your sheep,’ but ‘mine’. So Peter is a shepherd, not in himself but in the body of the Shepherd.”
-Sermon 285, On the Birthday of the Martyrs Castus and Aemilius; cited from Saint Augustine: Essential Sermons, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2007), 333.