hundred and twenty people were gathered for prayer
and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to
make the choice for a replacement for Judas, who had betrayed Jesus and hung
himself. Peter had one criterion, that, like Andrew, James, John, and himself,
the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning, from his baptism by John until the
fit this description -- Matthias and Joseph
called Barsabbas. They knew that both these men had been with them and with Jesus through his whole ministry. But which one had the
heart to become a witness to his resurrection? The apostles knew that only the Lord
could know what was in the heart of each. They cast lots in order to discover
God's will and Matthias was chosen. He was the
twelfth apostle and the group was whole again as
they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Unlike the other 12 who were
hand-picked by Jesus, warts and all, Matthias was chosen from among 120 others.
So there must have been something special about him - his credentials must have
been quite impressive, even though we know so little about him.
That's the first we hear of Matthias
in Scripture, and the last. Legends like the Acts
of Andrew and Matthias testify to Matthias' enthusiastic embrace of all that
being an apostle meant including evangelization,
persecution, and death in the service of the Lord. Clement of Alexandria says that Matthias, like all the other apostles,
was not chosen by Jesus for what he already was, but for
what Jesus foresaw he would become. He was
elected not because he was worthy but because he would become worthy. Jesus chooses all of us in the same way.
Have you ever felt like an
afterthought, a latecomer? Or have you ever resented someone new who was added
to your group? It is not our prerogative to decide who belongs and who doesn’t
belong within our church. God chooses people He deems fit to serve him. The
same goes with vocations. We are all called for specific roles, sometimes
unknown to us, until we realize our gifts and talents. So let us welcome any
newcomers to your parish, work, or family
community as someone chosen by God, as the apostles welcomed St Matthias.