Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Psalm 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
During the ten days between Jesus’ Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter addressed the one hundred and twenty members of the early Christian community. The number is important: “Later Jewish tradition considered ten men a minyan, or quorum, for communal prayer. The 120 members of the Christian community at prayer symbolize a quorum of all twelve tribes of a restored Israel” (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, 41).
Following Peter’s exhortation, Matthias was chosen by the community and by lot to replace Judas, since he was a witness to all Jesus’ earthly events, from his baptism in the Jordan to his resurrection from the dead. After encountering the risen Jesus during the days leading up to his Ascension, Matthias is chosen to take up the office (episkope), left vacant by Judas.
Matthias is faithful to Jesus to the end, almost compensating for Judas’ betrayal.Pope Benedict reflects on the election of Matthias and offers a lesson for us in the Church today: “While there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior” (Benedict XVI, 18 October 2006).
Matthias was probably one of the followers of John the Baptist and also one of the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-20). The seventy were given the power to heal and cast out demons in Jesus’ name. He was sent out (apostolos) to the towns and villages of Israel during Jesus’ public ministry and sent out again to all nations to preach the Gospel at Jesus’ Ascension. He will receive the Holy Spirit with Mary and the other Apostles and spend his life in the service of the Gospel.
Today’s Gospel invites us to see Matthias the Apostle as a friend of Jesus because he fulfilled what Jesus commanded. The first step in following Jesus was not taken by Matthias. Jesus says that he first chose them and appointed them to bear fruit. Matthias’ decision to follow Jesus, like our decision, is a response to God’s grace and call. God takes the first step, having chosen us in his Son before the foundation of the world to be holy (Ephesians 1:4).
Matthias was chosen by God for apostolic ministry. He responded generously to that call and was faithful to Jesus the end. He was a friend of Jesus and remained in the Father’s love. Throughout his life he bore fruit for the Kingdom. He loved others, ultimately giving his life for them. And now, he intercedes for us in heaven before the throne of God and the Lamb.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at email@example.com.