The disciple chosen must meet specific criteria: “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all 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.” (Acts 1:21-26) By the “luck of the draw” Matthias became one of the Twelve, sent out into the world to proclaim the Good News.
Not much is known about Matthias or about his ministry. The same can be said of most of the other Apostles except maybe Peter, James, John and of course Paul, even though he was not one of the Twelve. What we do know is that during their lifetimes, the Apostles including the latecomer Matthias played an important role in spreading the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. [Jesus said to them] “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30, NRSV) They also play an important role in God’s Holy City as described in the Revelation of John: “And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:10-14, NRSV)
There are so many questions to be asked when we think about Matthias. Did God have a hand in his choosing? Was he selected by chance? Did he feel honored or like he was second best? He did feel that he was up to the task? From Scripture, we cannot know. What we do know is that he was a disciple of Jesus commissioned to go out into the world to bring the message of the Good News – just as those of us modern-day disciples are called to be apostles. We sit at the feet of Jesus our Lord (like Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus), learn from him, and are called to be apostles, even if the world never remembers our name or exactly what we did to further the Kingdom of God. Like Matthias we are one apostle, example to all.
Praying that God strengthens me to be an example to all,
Note: The Feast Day of St. Matthias is May 14.