Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Saint Matthias the Apostle

Today the church remembers Saint Matthias the Apostle.

Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his subsequent suicide left a vacancy in the fellowship of the apostles. The remaining eleven apostles resolved to fill that vacancy and in so doing set an important precedent for the church. The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that two men were nominated, Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. The apostles prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then cast lots to see which of the two should be chosen. The lot fell to Matthias, who was then enrolled with the apostles.

The apostles were, therefore, deemed fit, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to select and appoint new apostles as some died or fell away. It was partly on this precedent that the Apostolic Succession was based. It is interesting to note that even today in America a bishop's election must be with the consent of the House of Bishops, along with lay people and clergy, and is not considered proper until the new bishop is ordained by several bishops.

We know nothing of Matthias' life following the events described in Acts. Tradition holds that he was an exemplary bishop, and on his feast day we pray that the church might always be "ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors."

Almighty God, who chose your faithful servant Matthias to be counted among the twelve: Grant that your church may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors. Amen.

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 and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for February 24, 2016

Acts 1:15-26
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, "Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus-- for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry." (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it' and 'Let another take his position of overseer.' 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.

Psalm 15 Domine, quis habitabit? (Lord, who may dwell?)
1   LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill?
2   Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart.
3   There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
4   In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the LORD.
5   He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word.
6   He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
7   Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.

Philippians 3:13-21
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

John 15:1, 6-16
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

Daily Meditation for February 24, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Acts 1:26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

After Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the apostles decided to find someone to replace him. Two candidates were found sufficiently devout, and by the luck of the draw, Matthias became Judas’ replacement.

Being the replacement apostle sounds like a tough role. The other eleven apostles had shared experiences with Jesus; they had an established internal power structure that Matthias had to learn; and they had the legitimacy of having been selected by Jesus personally to serve as apostles. Jesus had looked at every one of them and issued a call.

Matthias had been baptized by John and had followed Jesus from the beginning, but he had done so without that kind of personal call. Selected by lots, Matthias must have felt like an outsider, on the tail end of the events on which all their lives centered. Or maybe he was more like Ringo Starr from the Beatles, who was the band’s replacement drummer as their fame suddenly skyrocketed. Maybe Matthias just looked around in awe that he had been given the blessing of participation in this extraordinary event and hoped there hadn’t been some mistake.