Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of one of the Lord’s great Apostles, namely St. Matthias, the one who was chosen as Apostle and as member of the Twelve Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, who was the one that betrayed the Lord to the chief priests, and subsequently killed himself in grief, as noted in the Acts of the Apostles passage today in our first reading. The other Apostles had also abandoned the Lord and fled in fear when the Lord Jesus was arrested, and St. Peter also denied Him not once but three times.
However, what made the actions of Judas Iscariot to be different is that while the other Apostles returned to Him and were reconciled to Him, as especially illustrated by the encounter between Jesus and His Apostles and disciples at the Lake of Galilee after He has risen from the dead. St. Peter was called by the Lord, Who then asked him, ‘Peter, do you love Me?’, not only once but three times, at which each time, St. Peter reaffirmed his love and dedication to his Lord and Master, ‘Lord, You know that I love You.’ And through these words, the Lord did not only forgive St. Peter and the other Apostles, but also then entrusted them with the care of His faithful people.
Judas Iscariot did not have the faith in the Lord, and instead gave in to despair and regret, to fear and doubt, and he took his own life as a result. He did not trust in the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, and allowed Satan to make him in the first place, the instrument of betrayal by which the Son of Man would be betrayed and handed over to the chief priests and the Pharisees. He had the free will to choose his course of actions, but he chose to follow his desires and temptations, and to side with his fears and despair, rather than to trust in the Lord.
Hence, as the Apostles decided in the first reading today, chaired by St. Peter, the place once occupied by Judas Iscariot had to be replaced, as their number of twelve was not just a mere number. For twelve is a truly significant number, representing the number of the sons of Israel and henceforth later on, the twelve tribes of Israel. And as seen in the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelations, the Twelve Apostles will sit on the twelve seats of judgment representing these twelve tribes, as a symbol of the unity of God’s people, with the Apostles as its pillars, for the Church is indeed the new Israel, the new chosen people of God, formed from all peoples from all the nations.
St. Matthias was chosen from among those who had followed the Lord from the beginning, to fill the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, and hence he became the twelfth Apostle, who then was instrumental in the efforts of the early Church in expanding and establishing the firm foundations of the faith in various places, as all the Apostles went on journeys and trips to the many countries and places to proclaim the faith to more and more people who had not yet known the Lord and His truth. St. Matthias went to the region of Asia Minor, to Cappadocia and areas around the Caspian Sea, and then as far as Ethiopia.
According to some Apostolic traditions, St. Matthias was martyred in either Ethiopia, where he was stoned to death for his works and efforts by the pagans, or in Jerusalem itself by the local populace, who stoned him and then beheaded him for his commitment to the Lord and for his fearless preaching of the truth of God. Nonetheless, regardless of the details of his martyrdom, what is certain about St. Matthias is that he is truly a devoted servant of God, a great Apostle who had laid the firm foundation of the Church and the Christian faith in many places, and became the source of inspiration for many people.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate today this great feast in honour of one of Our Lord’s great Apostles, we are called to remember St. Matthias’ great commitment and love for the Lord, his passion in spreading the truth of the Gospel and all that he had done for the sake of all the faithful. And all of us should be inspired by his courageous example and faith, and doing the very best in our own lives to glorify the Lord by our lives and by our faith.
As Christians, all of us are the ones who have been entrusted to continue the great works and efforts which have been begun by the Apostles, to reach out to more and more people, and to lead more and more to the salvation in God. This is the same mission which our Lord has entrusted to His Apostles, including St. Matthias, and this mission is still far from being done, and on the contrary, it is still ever ongoing, with more and more people are in need of the Lord’s truth and light, and how many still do not yet truly know the Lord.
It is up to us then to be the bearers of this truth, and we can do this by being good role models of our faith in our own respective communities, in our own families and among our own relatives, within our own circles of friends and among those who are acquainted to us, lastly even to the strangers whom we meet and encounter in each and every moments of our lives. Even in the small and little actions, words and things we do in our lives, in what may seem to be insignificant, in truth, we all are being witnesses to the Lord among all those whose lives we have touched and even influenced, often without us realising it.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we then going to do in order to fulfil the mission and the commandments that the Lord has entrusted to us? Are we going to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him and to His cause? Or are we going to pretend that we have no responsibility or anything to do with our faith? As Christians, we are all called to be active in living up our faith, and we should therefore discern very carefully how we are going to live our lives from now on in accordance to God’s will. This is what we should do, brethren, and what we are all called to be as part of our baptism.
Let us all therefore be inspired by the faith and examples of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Matthias, in entrusting ourselves to God and in following His will and commandments, wholeheartedly devoting ourselves to serve Him each and every moments of our lives. Let us all be inspired by the zeal and courage of all of our holy predecessors, the innumerable saints and martyrs through which we may also follow in their footsteps in glorifying the Lord and in revealing His truth and light more and more in our darkened world today.
May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, giving us the courage and will to persevere in our own vocations and calling in life, to be faithful in our lives that through us many more people may find their way to the Lord and His salvation. May God bless us all in our many good works and endeavours, in our efforts for His greater glory. Amen.