Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Jn 15:1, 6-16
Today we remember Saint Matthias, who was chosen to take the place that Judas Iscariot had held among the Twelve Apostles. Peter pointed out to the other Apostles that the hole left in The Twelve by the betrayal of Jesus by Judas needed to be filled in. By the rules of the time the choice had to be by the casting of lots. (Cf. Acts 1:15-18)
Luke wrote in the Book of Acts that the lot had fallen to Matthias. (v.26)
We don’t know much about Matthias. The stipulation was that it be one of the wider group of disciples who had been with Jesus from the time of his baptism by John, and that it be one who had witnessed the Resurrection.(Cf. Acts 1:21-22)
Acts 1:15-26; John 15:1, 6-16
This is the feast day of St. Matthias, the Apostle… and there’s little to be said about him. Even our opening prayer, the Collect, identifies him by who he is not: Matthias is not Judas, the false apostle. (1) Matthias replaces Judas. There is no mention of Matthias in the gospels; there is only the briefest mention of Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles, our first reading today. There we hear that Matthias had been present at the Jordan River on the day of Christ’s baptism and that he was sent out to participate in Jesus’ public ministry. What else is only a guess. Only that beyond the original 12 apostles, Jesus created a circle of 70 followers – also called “disciples” – and we could infer that Matthias was probably among the 70. We could infer Matthias was present at the crucifixion, and we could infer that he was a witness to the resurrection… but we don’t know for sure. (2)
So, who’s going to be the next Bishop of Massachusetts?
There are seven names on the slate, and to help us choose there will be a series of open meetings throughout the diocese from March 14-17 to meet the candidates and get to know them. It’s been a huge process so far, taking many months, and it will all culminate on Saturday, April 5, in the cathedral when the elections will take place.
Wouldn’t it be easier just to flip a coin? That’s what happened, or something similar, when the early Christians met to choose a successor for Judas Iscariot. Judas was dead, and the apostles wanted to replace him with somebody who had also known Jesus as intimately as they had, and in particular, someone who, as they said, “would become a witness with us to his resurrection.” They didn’t have seven names on the slate, just two: Joseph called Barsabbas, also known as Justus – and Matthias.
The Feast of St. Matthias
Readings: Acts 1:15-26 – Phil. 3:13b-21 – John 15: 1, 6-16
Can you remember what it feels like to be chosen? Perhaps you can recall what it was like to be chosen as a very young child – to be first in line or to help the teacher. Or perhaps you can remember being chosen to be part of a team, or to play a role in the school play, or to become a member of an organization.