All we know of Matthias is found in today’s first reading (Acts 1:15-17,20-26). In fact, with the exceptions of Peter and Paul, we know very little about most of the Apostles.
In this first reading, Peter speaks of the design of God that was operative in the events they had witnessed. Judas Iscariot must be replaced because there must be Twelve in time for Pentecost. The requirements for Judas’ successor were not only that he have been a witness of the Risen Christ but also of the Lord’s public ministry from the baptism of John. The life and Resurrection of Jesus are inseparable. They are mutually interpretative. Matthias was chosen by lottery.
As the Apostles died after Pentecost, they were not replaced. It was impossible to replace eyewitnesses. After their death, the link to them became important. As variant doctrines arose from many quarters, the acid test of the authentic way of Jesus became apostolic doctrine, apostolic creed and apostolic succession.
The Gospel reading reminds us that there is more to being apostolic than an apostolic connection. That our historical genealogy can be traced to apostolic times shows historical legitimacy but we cannot rest on our apostolic link alone. The Lord speaks to the entire Church in saying: “Love one another……” If we go to a physician to be healed, the degrees on his office wall are an important qualification. The more important requirement we have is that he be able to do some healing. This is the other side of apostolicity. We must show that we continue the work of Jesus’ healing and loving. The great draw of the Church is less its antiquity than its continuation of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus lives and heals through us.
Prayer: Lord God,You chose Saint Matthias to complete the number of the twelve Apostles. By his prayer, include us among Your chosen ones, since we rejoice to see that the lot marked out for us is Your love. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 14 May 2019
A Christian Pilgrim