Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lord Will Give Him A Seat With The Leaders Of His People

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Reading I
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters
(there was a group of about one hundred
and twenty persons in the one place).
He said, “My brothers and sisters,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
Judas was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.
For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

Let his encampment become desolate,
and may no one dwell in it.
May another take his office.

Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.
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Psalm 113
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.
From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.
Who is like the LORD, our God,
who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
To seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people.
The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people.
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John 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments,
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another as I love 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 no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know
what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything
I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you and appointed you
to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father
in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
There is only one mention of Matthias in the whole of the New Testament and that is in the Acts of the Apostles, whose author is always understood to have been Luke, the author of the gospel bearing his name. According to the Acts, after the Ascension of Jesus to his Father, the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. They gathered in a "room" together with the women who had accompanied Jesus, Mary his mother and other relatives. This room was a refuge because, as friends and companions of Jesus, they were afraid that the authorities might come to arrest them. We are told they gathered there frequently as a group to pray. A few days later, about 120 ‘believers’ gathered together and Peter spoke to them. He wanted to address the problem of choosing someone to replace the traitor, Judas, and keep the number of the Apostles at twelve, a number of significance for these were the ‘patriarchs’ of the New Israel. Peter cited two passages from the Psalms: "Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one live in it" (Psalm 69:26) and also, "May another take his office" (Psalm 109:8).
The main qualification for the candidate to replace Judas was that he would be someone "who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us". Two possible candidates were then chosen - Joseph, called Bar-Sabbas, and Matthias. The gathering prayed that God would indicated which of the two was his choice. They then cast lots, leaving the outcome to God, and the choice was Matthias who was now included among the Twelve Apostles. And that, basically, is all we know about Matthias because there is no other mention of him in the gospels or in any other New Testament writing.

Given such sparse information, it is not surprising that many stories and legends grew around Matthias. He has been identified with a number of other people or even given a different name. St Clement of Alexandria says some identified him with Zacchaeus, the tax collector from Jericho (Luke 19:1-10), while other sources identified him either with Nathanael (John 1:45, 21:2) or with Barnabas (the companion of Paul in the Acts). A legend holds he first preached the Gospel in Judaea and later in Ethiopia or Colchis (now Caucusian Georgia) and that he was crucified in Colchis. A marker placed in the ruins of the Roman fortress at Gonio (Apsaros) in the modern Georgian region of Adjara claims that Matthias is buried at that site. Another legend says: "Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia, where the sea harbor of Hyssus is, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopolis, and was buried there, near the Temple of the Sun." Still another tradition says that he was stoned in Jerusalem by Jews and then beheaded but, according to Hippolytus of Rome, he died of old age in Jerusalem.

It is claimed that the Apostle’s remains are interred in the oldest German town, Trier, at the Abbey of St. Matthias and were brought there through Empress Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine I). However, according to Greek sources, the remains of the apostle are buried in the castle of Gonio-Apsaros, Georgia.

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