Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
February 24, 2012
The Lord be with you
Matthias is one of the lesser-known apostles. He was appointed to the apostolic band to replace Judas, who betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. His appointment, and the qualifications for being an apostle, is found in Acts 1:15-25. An apostle has to be a witness of Jesus’ ministry from his baptism to his ascension, as well as a witness of the Resurrection. Two men met the requirements, Joseph Barsabus and Matthias. When you realize that there were a number of women present that met these qualifications but did not have their names put forward, it seems another qualification was to be a man.
Details about Matthias are hard to come by. A very early tradition states that both Matthias and Joseph were part of the group of 70 men Jesus sent out in Luke 10:1-20. All traditions agree that he died a martyr’s death, probably by a double bladed ax.
The traditions give a number of choices for his field of ministry. Some suggest he went to Ethiopia; others say he went to Armenia, the first nation to adopt Christianity as a national religion. The most likely place for his death is at Colchis in Asia Minor, around 50 AD. The church of St. Matthias as Trier, Germany, claims the honor of being the final burial site for Matthias the only one of the Twelve to be buried in Europe north of the Alps.
His Feast Day was one of the last of the Apostles to be added to the calendar, occurring in the eleventh century. No one seems to know why February 25 was chosen. Back in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church changed their remembrance of Matthias from February 25 to May 14. Most have not followed their example.
Matthias served the Lord faithfully, but he was not one of the original Twelve. When his name was called, though, he was ready. Even after he was appointed to be one of the Twelve, he does not get directly referred to again in the Bible. So we too may serve the Lord far from the limelight. When we are called, Matthias reminds us to be ready. Even if our moment is only a moment, and then we serve the Lord for the rest of our years once more far from the limelight, we know that the Lord remembers our service. Matthias was a faithful servant of the Lord.
Prayer: Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose Your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve; Grant that Your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Blessings in Christ,