Monday, February 25, 2013

What the Papal Conclave Could Learn from Matthias

In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we remember a few parishes each week—usually the week of their patronal or titular feast day. Yesterday, we prayed for “St. Matthias, Tuscaloosa,” but one of the readers had a hard time saying “Matthias.” And who can blame her? He’s a saint that doesn’t get a lot of air time.

Judas, who was numbered with the twelve, betrayed Jesus, and, as Acts puts it, he fell headfirst and burst in the middle with his bowels gushing out. Nice job, Judas. He’s easy to remember. We all know the story of Judas. But, when the eleven remaining disciples got together and chose a successor, the lot fell to a man whom we never hear from again. Matthias who?

In honor of St. Matthias day, which was transferred from yesterday to today, here are some things to think about:

  1. St. Matthias’ name is only mentioned twice in the bible—once when he is named as a candidate for apostleship and once when he is chosen. The end. Never again.
  2. The other guy standing with Matthias in the election was “Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus.” It seems like he was better known to the community than the guy who won. (What was his name again?)
  3. Matthias and Justus were chosen as candidates because, as Peter puts it, they “have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” In other words, even though they were never named until now, they had been there the whole time.
  4. Matthias is chosen by lot, which is to say that “chance” or “luck” or “God’s divine providence” is the reason he was made one of the twelve. However you look at it, Matthias himself didn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

 We are called to be disciples. And I think Matthias is our disciple. He’s there the whole time. He’s ready to stand in. He’s chosen by lot. He jumps into the ministry, but still nothing changes. He is the perfect example of what it means to follow Jesus—quiet, steady, faithful, anonymous, and prepared.

I don’t know what God will call me to do today. Matthias reminds me that I don’t need to know. I just need to be available to him. Does it matter whether anyone notices? Not really. All that matters is God’s election—that he chooses me to be his servant. 

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