by Joel V. Ocampo
On May 14, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthias, the Apostle. He was not one of the original Twelve. Rather, he was elected to replace Judas Iscariot. St. Luke recorded the election of St. Matthias in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (1:15-17, 20-26).
Workshop of Simone Martini | PD Wikimedia Commons
ELECTION OF SAINT MATTHIAS
The main qualification for the position is simple: a person who accompanied Jesus and the Twelve the whole time, beginning from the baptism of John until the day of the Lord’s ascension, and must become a witness to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:21-22). The first Christian community proposed two candidates: Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.
After this election, Saint Matthias was no longer mentioned in the whole New Testament, just as he was not mentioned in the Gospels, despite his witness beginning from the baptism of John until Jesus’s ascension. With this, we can say that Saint Matthias was a silent worker. He participated in the mission of the Lord, but remained a silent worker.
We can learn two lessons from Saint Matthias:
be a silent worker that participates in the mission of Christ; and
grow from discipleship into apostleship.
BE A SILENT WORKER THAT PARTICIPATES IN THE MISSION OF CHRIST
We already learn that Saint Matthias accompanied the Lord and the Twelve, beginning from the baptism of John until the day of the Lord’s ascension. Imagine that, he was with them for three years. John recorded that after the Bread of Life Discourse, “many of Jesus’ disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (Jn. 6:66). However, Jesus’ faithful disciples decided to stay.
According to Church tradition, Saint Matthias was one of the seventy-two disciples, appointed by Jesus and sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit (Lk. 10:1-12). After their mission, the seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Lk. 10:17-20).
Despite the trials, difficulties, and rejections encountered in following the Lord and participating in His mission, Saint Matthias remained faithful. However, he remained a silent worker, taking in mind the word of the Lord, “take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father… do not let your left hand know what your right is doing” (Mt. 6:1, 3a). Saint Matthias remained a silent worker until his death.
GROW FROM DISCIPLESHIP INTO APOSTLESHIP
A disciple or follower is what we can call today as “student” while an apostle is one who was “sent” by his teacher. As a follower of Jesus, Saint Matthias was still a disciple. Jesus Himself said, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40). After three years of discipleship, Saint Matthias grew into an apostle (Greek: ἀπόστολος). He received power through the Holy Spirit, and became Jesus’ witness in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). According to various traditions, he preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea, and Ethiopia. He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem. According to other legends, he was chopped apart, that is why he was portrayed as a man holding a Bible and an ax.
In our daily lives, we become disciples when we attend the celebration of the Mass, when we serve the Church, when we do acts of piety. However, the Lord challenges us, as He challenged Saint Matthias to become apostles, to bring the faith, and live the faith in our day-to-day activities, by living the Gospel values, by being honest in workplaces and in all that we do, by manifesting our love for neighbor, as Jesus has loved us; and more importantly, to live like Jesus and love like Jesus.
PRAYER TO ST. MATTHIAS
O Glorious St. Matthias, in God’s design it fell upon you to take the place of the unfortunate Judas who betrayed his Master. You were selected by the twofold sign of the uprightness of your life and the call of the Holy Spirit. Obtain for us the grace to practice the same uprightness of life and to be called by that same Spirit to wholehearted service of the Church. Then after a life of zeal and good works let us be ushered into your company in heaven to sing forever the praises of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Matthias, pray for us.