Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
On this Friday of the sixth week of the Easter Season, we make a slight break in our routine, by celebrating the Feast of St. Matthias. He is another interesting individual in the life of the early Christians.
In the very first chapter of Acts, the early Christians are gathering in the Upper Room. The apostles are mentioned by name. They were devoting themselves to prayer with one another. Special mention is made that Mary, the Mother of Jesus was with the apostles, along with some other women and some relatives of Jesus.
But something is missing. There are only eleven apostles. Judas had betrayed Jesus, getting paid to do it. Then he had despaired and died a miserable death.
Jesus had chosen twelve, in imitation of the twelve tribes of Israel. The church would be the new Israel, so the number twelve had to be restored. Who should be chosen? How should Judas’s replacement be chosen?
The Bible mentions that there were 120 people gathered as the early Christian community, listening to Peter speaking as the leader of the small group.
Peter gives expression to the desire of the community when he sets forth the qualifications needed in this new apostle. The first qualification was this: accompaniment with Jesus from the time of His baptism until His ascension into heaven. The second qualification looked to the future: “become with [the other apostles] a witness to His resurrection.”
The community did not presume to make the decision on its own. Since Jesus Himself had chosen the other apostles, the community chose to rely on the Old Testament practice of drawing lots. The choice fell to Matthias, who became one of the Twelve.
Later in the Acts, we see the apostles living out their vocation. “With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all” (4:33). All of us can likewise be witnesses to the Lord’s resurrection.
Reflection by Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB