Beloved of God,
On Friday February 24, in the life of the Church, we celebrated our dear Saint Matthias, the so-called 13th Apostle, and the saint for whom we are named because our parish was incorporated on this feast day in 1869.
Matthias must have been a humble man as very little is known about him. Here is his story from the Acts of the Apostles, 1:15-26:
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus- for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.'(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
‘For it is written in the book of Psalms,
“Let his homestead become desolate,
and let there be no one to live in it;”
“Let another take his position of overseer.”
So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout 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-one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’
So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
From this story, we can see that Matthias was quiet and faithful. He had been with our Lord Jesus from the beginning, and was a credible witness to the resurrection. To be chosen by lot was thought to be an indication that God had a hand in the choosing. I don’t imagine it was easy to be the one following Judas, but Matthias persevered.
He received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost along with the other apostles and according to the lore and legend of the Church he spread the Gospel into Cappadocia, which is now central Turkey, and was martyred for his faith. The Emperor Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, presumably carried Matthias’ relics (remnants of his body) to Rome.
We who bear Matthias’ name, both on our church and in our hearts, celebrate this humble, quiet, faithful man today. May we, too, know ourselves to be chosen by God and therefore live our lives in faithful service, sharing the Love of Jesus Christ and the Good News of His Gospel at all times and in all places.