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Are You the Next Matthias?

May 1st, 2014by Joe Ollier

The first act of the apostles after Jesus’ Ascension was to find a replacement for Judas. Of all the things they could do, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Why? Twelve was a very significant number to the Jews, representing completeness.  There were twelve tribes of Israel, so if the disciples of Jesus were to symbolize a new Israel capable of evangelizing the whole world, a twelfth apostle was needed.

But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. Now that he was gone, how would they know whom to choose?  In the upper room 120 people gathered for prayer and reflection, when Peter stood up to propose a solution.  Peter had one criterion, that the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple of Jesus from the very beginning, from his baptism by John until the Ascension. Peter reasoned that the new apostle must be able to witness to Jesus’s entire ministry. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross and of eating his body — teachings that had made others melt away.

Saint Matthias.PNG

Saint Matthias from the workshop of Simone Martini

This short account in Acts 1 is the one and only time we hear of Matthias in Scripture. There is no other mention of him in all the New Testament, although some  other ancient texts speak about Matthias’ enthusiastic embrace of his new role, including evangelization, persecution, and death in the service of the Lord.

So how does one qualify to be an apostle?

Clement of Alexandria said that Jesus chose Matthias, like all the other apostles, not for what he already was, but for what Jesus foresaw he would become. He was elected not because he was worthy but because he would become worthy. Jesus chooses all of us in the same way, from our Baptism. That’s why I don’t like to talk about being “ready” to receive Sacraments like Confirmation.  Let’s face it – no one is really “ready” to receive the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.  The fact is, through the grace of the Sacraments, God makes us ready to be who he has called us to be.  That means that the only way we’ll ever reach our fullest potential is by receiving the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation and by continuing to receive Christ in the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.  

So what is Jesus calling you to become? Come to Mass and find out!

Joe Ollier

Joe Ollier is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Ascension Parish in Kettering where he and his family are. He has 20 years experience in youth ministry and a Masters Degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton.