‘You water the hills from your lofty abode; the earth is sated with the fruit of your works’ (Psalm 103:13). This simple material reality presented by the sacred text – of rain that irrigates the mountains, giving rise to springs and streams that in turn water the Earth – was chosen by the Angelic Doctor for his inaugural lecture at the University of Paris. Like a soaring eagle, with his characteristic genius, Saint Thomas summed up an important law of the spiritual order from this simple natural fact: ‘The King and Lord of the heavens set down this law from all eternity that the gifts of his Providence should come to the lower through intermediaries’ (St. Thomas Aquinas, Principium Rigans montes, preface).
Indeed, the Most High created a succession of intermediaries, and is pleased to grant His graces through their agency. We can observe this in the Scriptures themselves. For example, the innumerable occasions on which Moses interceded for the Chosen People, delivering them from chastisement, and sometimes even from extermination, and obtaining the divine pardon. Or within the incomparable Sacerdotal Prayer of Jesus (John Ch.17), when He prayed to His Father for the Apostles, and for all of those who would believe through them. In our daily lives too these intermediations are also present: either in the case of priests – who are instruments chosen by Christ to dispense the precious fruits of the Redemption among the faithful by means of the Sacraments – or even in the case of parents who, by virtue of the common priesthood received in baptism, bless their children.
These are some considerations that come to mind as we recall March 13th 2013, when the universal Church breathlessly awaited the blessing of its new Supreme Pastor. The Bishop of Rome appeared on the Central loggia…but, inclined himself and expressed his desire to receive the divine blessing invoked by the people!
What happened? By any chance, can the earth irrigate the mountains? Had the disposition of the Eternal Wisdom been inverted? Let’s take a look at what the Magisterium says.
Enter in the various parts of our study
II – The Bishop of Rome: merely one inter pares or Universal Pastor?