Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Acts 1:15-17;20-26; Ps 113: 1-8; Jn 15:9-17

The Risen Lord Jesus gives Matthias a seat among the Eleven; the seat vacated by Judas must be filled so that the Twelve might be complete. Saint Matthias is chosen to go forth; he is chosen to be an apostle. This feast is always celebrated during the fifty days of the Easter season. Perhaps the Psalmist gives us a hint about why that is the case. Each of us is raised up from the dust. Each of us is lifted up from the dunghill. Like Matthias we are among the poor who are seated with the princes. We share in the mission and ministry of the apostles by being chosen and sent. We move among the Twelve to continue their faithful proclamation of the Easter message. Having been followers, disciples, all during the Lenten season we have been transformed by the Paschal mysteries during Holy Week. Now we are called friends; now we are ready to make bold our apostolic witness.

Saint Peter uses the inspired texts of the Psalms to lead the apostolic church. His listening to the Word of God in the words of David summons the community to prayer and action about the vacant seat of Judas. In prayer over the texts and over the problem Saint Peter sees the necessity of choosing another Apostle from among those who was of our company while the Lord Jesus moved among us, from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us. Only those who had such intimacy with the Lord Jesus were candidates to become a witness to his resurrection. Only someone who knew Jesus as a friend could be called to be a witness. This qualification still applies today. If we are to be living witnesses of a living Lord we must be his friends. Likewise, the method of choice, drawing lots, enabled the community of believers to surrender their prejudices and trust in the Lord. Such surrender is not easy in our day. Certainly we need not return to the “lottery method,” yet still we could more readily surrender our prejudices and trust in the Lord to make choices in and through our prayerful community.

The Lord Jesus does make choices. Indeed the Risen Christ still summons men, women, and children live the same faith found among the Apostles. As Jesus explains in the gospel, it was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. Even today the movement to faith is mysterious. It is not like our ordinary experience of choice. It is not like buying a car, selecting a college, finding a home. Rather, it is an experience of being chosen by someone. Indeed, we do not go shopping for a Lord in whom to trust. Saint Matthias and all who share in the ministry and mission of the apostles continue the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ himself. So it is the Lord Jesus who selects, refines, and sends us out to witness to his resurrection by bearing fruit that will endure. This is no magical change; rather, this is a mysterious change. It is gradual and not instantaneous. Over fifty days of Easter, indeed over a whole lifetime, we gently empty ourselves of egoism and are filled with God himself. We continue to need the Father’s help in bearing the fruits of the Spirit: joy, peace, love, kindness, patience, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, and chastity. Your fruit must endure, so that all you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Today in this liturgy we ask the Father for the openness we need to accept and love one another the way the Lord Jesus accepts and loves us in giving himself to us in this Eucharist.