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_*“And they prayed and said, ‘Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, who was enrolled with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:24-26)*_

Today, the church celebrates the Feast of St. Matthias, who was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot to complete the symbolic number of twelve Apostles. Just as there were twelve tribes of Isreal, it was not merely coincidental that Jesus also chose twelve Apostles from among the large crowds that followed him. The number twelve signifies that Jesus came not to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfil them. (cf. Matthew 5:17). As such, with Judas Iscariot’s absence, there was a need to complete this number. As we celebrate St. Matthias today, let us reflect on some of the lessons contained in today’s readings:

1. The Office Is Greater Than The Person: While addressing the believers, Peter said: “Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas… His office let another take.’” (Acts 1:16 & 20). In other words, the office is indispensable, but the office holder can be replaced anytime. No matter the position you occupy, there is someone who can take your place and even do a better job. Do your best, but take it easy; no matter how good you are, you cannot be there forever. As Matthias was elected to the office once held by Judas Iscariot, all other apostles were eventually replaced by others. This process continues today.

2. God’s Will Must Be Done: In the Gospel of John 15:9-17 (Today’s Gospel passage), Jesus teaches us that regardless of our positions, we all have the same calling: “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruits and that your fruits should abide.” God will not change His plans because we fail to cooperate with Him. As the Lord’s Prayer says, His will must be done on earth as in heaven. If we fail to live up to the demands of our calling, God will raise others to continue His plans, as Matthias was elected to take the place of Judas Iscariot.

3. Be Humble; There is a Matthias For Every Judas: In Matthew 3:9, Jesus warns: “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our ancestor’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise children to Abraham.” The fact that you hold a very important position (in the church or society) does not give you the right to look down on anyone. The higher you go, the humbler you should be. Jesus said: “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled” (Matthew 23:11-12). It takes humility to acknowledge one’s fault and beg forgiveness. One of Judas’ mistakes was his failure to beg for God’s forgiveness like Peter did (after denying Jesus three times). Nobody is above mistakes. Don’t let pride drive you to take your life; face the shame and ask for mercy.

4. Show Me Your Friends And I Will Tell Your Future: Make sure that the company of friends you keep going in your direction. Both Mathias and Joseph Justus were friends of the Apostles. Peter noted: “So one of the men who had accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). The kind of friends you make determines your future.

5. Be Prayerful, No One Knows What is in Another Person’s Mind: The behaviour of Judas Iscariot must have shocked the apostles. They never imagined he could plan such. “And they prayed and said, ‘Lord who knows the hearts of all men, show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his place” (Acts 1:24-25). The Apostles prayed; they did not rely on their judgment or experience.

According to Wikipedia, St. Matthias planted the faith in Cappadocia and on the coasts of the Caspian Sea, residing chiefly near the port of Issus. The Synopsis of Dorotheus contains this tradition: “Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia, where the sea harbour of Hyssus is, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopol and was buried near the Temple of the Sun.” Another tradition maintains that the Jews stoned Matthias in Jerusalem and then beheaded.

Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bible Study: Acts 1:15-17,20-26, Ps. 113:1-8, John 15:9-17).*

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu


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