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St Matthias

Saint Matthias
There are two days which traditionally have been set aside to honour Matthias- in the Book of Common Prayer  it was Feb 24th though in the Common Worship  lectionary  and in  the RC church lectionary it is  May 14th .

The name Matthias derives from a Hebrew name: Mattithiah, signifying “gift of Yahweh.”

This saint often gets overlooked, so I thought we would remember him today. And the question to ask about him is: how did he qualify to be an apostle?

The first act of the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus was to find a replacement for Judas. With all the questions, doubts, and dangers facing them, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Why was this important? Twelve was a very important number to the Chosen People: twelve was the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. If the new Israel was to come from the disciples of Jesus, a twelfth apostle was needed.

But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. How could they know whom he would choose?

According to Acts 1, 120 were gathered for prayer and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to make the choice.

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 Ascension. The reason for this was simple, the new apostle must be a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross.

Two men fitted  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.  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.

That’s the first we hear of Matthias in Scripture, and the last. Legends like the Acts of Andrew and Matthias refer 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.

Maybe there is some truth here – that Jesus chooses all of us in the same way –not for what we are but for what we may become by his grace. Amen

February 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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