Just before Pentecost the Apostles realized that they needed to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot, and today we celebrate that replacement, St. Matthias. Throughout the Gospel they’d been the Twelve, but this number was not by chance. It represented a symbolic connection to the twelve tribes of Israel, which in turn implied a completeness of continuity on the part of the Apostles with the People of God whom the Lord had established in the Old Testament. Peter says in today’s First Reading that Judas had, “turned away to go to his own place”: he had abandoned the apostolic ministry and someone needed to take up the work that had been expected of Judas.
Peter takes the initiative and tells us what the essence of being an Apostle consists: someone who personally knew the Lord during his earthly ministry and all the way up to the Ascension. Someone who’d been with Our Lord from the beginning. Two candidates were presented, yet they didn’t just want it to be a quick campaign and a vote: after praying they cast lots to see which candidate would take Judas’ place, because in that way the Lord could make the final choice by influencing or permitting whatever lot was cast.
Like Paul, Matthias probably never expected to become an Apostle, but Our Lord has his plans. The Twelve (including their new member) and Paul fulfilled their mission. We may not be Apostles, but we have to be ready to be apostles wherever, whenever, and however Our Lord wishes. Let’s respond to the call generously.
Readings: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26; Psalm 113:1–8; John 15:9–17.