Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Reading 1 (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.
and:
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.

Gospel (Jn 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."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Jesus chose, trained and sent his apostles out to preach the gospel.

             

            The feast of St. Matthias happened before two important events in the Acts: Ascension and Pentecost. It is necessary to have twelve apostles in the New Testament as twelve tribes in the Old Testament before they receive the Holy Spirit.

            The Scripture doesn’t give us many facts related to St. Matthias’ life besides those in the first reading. In the Gospel, Jesus emphasized the most important virtue which his disciples must have, that is: the theological virtue of love.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The apostles chose the replacement for Judas, the betrayer.

1.1/ Judas’ betrayal was in God’s plan of salvation: The Acts reported: “During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, "My brothers, 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. He 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.' And: 'May another take his office.'” Peter’s first reference is Psa 69:25, RSV and the second is Psa 109:8.

            (1) Why did Judas betray Jesus? There are many different opinions:

            + The greed for money: Most of people follow this opinion because according to the Fourth Gospel, Judas was the treasurer and used to spend money for his own need. According to Matthew, he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which was equivalent with a month of working at that time, not a great amount. John also highlighted Judas’ greed for money by contrasting him with Mary who broke a jar of one liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. Judas said to her, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?” (Jn 12:5).

            + The desire for vainglory: Some stipulate that when Judas saw that he wasn’t treated as well as three Jesus’ closed apostles which were Peter, James and John, he was angry and found a way to destroy Jesus.

            + The hatred of being discriminated: Judas belongs to a village named Kerioth in Judah. He was the only apostle who belonged to Southern Kingdom while other eleven belonged to the Northern Kingdom. There were many differences between these two kingdoms. Some think that the discrimination led Judas to betray Jesus.

            + Judas wanted to force Jesus to use his power: Some say that Judas knew of Jesus’ power and he wanted to put Jesus in a situation that he must use his power to liberate Israel as a powerful Messiah which many Israelites expected. When he saw that Jesus didn’t use of his power, he regretted and went out to kill himself as Matthew reported (Mt 27:3-10).

            + Judas wanted to test Jesus: Some say that Judas was a shrewd person. He thought he can trick anyone and he wanted to secretly betray Jesus to see if Jesus knew the one who betrayed him.

            (2) Judas’ fate: was reported differently in the New Testament.

            + To Luke: Today passage omitted two sentenced that the author mentioned about Judas’ fate: “He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language 'Akeldama,' that is, Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

            + To Matthew: “Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? Look to it yourself." Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, "It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood” (Mt 27:3-6).

            + To some modern scholars: Some say that based on the scripture, Judas certainly lost his soul. Some others say Judas’ betrayal is in God’s plan of salvation and he was “deeply regretted what he had done,” Judas can still be saved. The Scripture didn’t give us the result of Judas’ fate, only of what he had done. It is better to leave his fate for God’s judgment and mercy.

            + To the Predestination: They illustrated Judas’ case as an example for God’s predestination. If God predestines whoever is lost, he shall be lost as Judas; in reverse, if God predestines whoever is saved, he shall be saved as Peter. Those who follow this Predestination forgot about Peter and Judas’ reactions after their betrayals. Moreover, they also presupposed that Judas was lost.

1.2/ The way of selection: There are many things we can learn from the selection of Judas’ replacement in today passage.

            1.2.1/ Peter put out two required conditions to be Jesus’ apostles:

            (1) Must choose amongst Jesus’ disciples: Peter said, "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."

            (2) Must witness "Jesus’ resurrection": Peter said he must “become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

            These two requirements are reasonable because the selecting apostle must know of Jesus and his teaching; at the same time, he must have the experience of Jesus’ resurrection before he could witness for him. “So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.”

            1.2.2/ They drew lot from two suggested candidates: The apostles strongly believed of Christ’s presence in their midst as they prayed: “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosento take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”

            The result: the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. The Jewish way of drawing lot is that they write names of the candidates in small stones, put them in a glass and shake them until one of them falling out. Whoever has his name in the stone, he wins.

2/ Gospel: The most important commandment which the disciples must keep is love.

            People can think of many reasons that lead to Judas’ betrayal; but the main reason is he didn’t have God’s love. All of Judas’ bad habits can be healed if he let God’s love permeate him.

2.1/ God’s love: There are at least three kinds of love which are corresponded with three Greek’s nouns: First, it is sexual love (eros) as love between a male and a female when they find other’s attraction. Secondly, there is natural love (philê) as love between members in one’s household or between brother (philadelphia). Lastly, there is charity (agapê). This kind of love is only used in Christianity. It expresses the divine love for human beings.

            Jesus wanted to emphasize charity when he said: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” Jesus’ disciples must remain or be nourished in this love before they can achieve what Jesus demands them.

            The way they remain in God’s love is to keep Jesus’ commandments as he said: "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.” Love can’t be separated from obedience. As Jesus expressed his love for the Father by doing all what He wants; Jesus’ disciples must also expressed their love for Jesus by doing all what he commanded.

            People used to have a wrong understanding of obedience. They think that to obey and to keep others’ commandment are the signs of weak people and limit their freedom. They forgot that they can’t know all things as God, especially about their future. Only God knows what is good or bad for people because He knew all things as in present. When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, they are very proud of them because there isn’t a nation in the world who was directly taught by God like them. They know things what other nations don’t know; and as a result, they can avoid bad things which other nations can’t avoid. Therefore, to keep what God commands must be joyful and proud, as Jesus confirmed: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”

            The most important commandment which Jesus revealed to his disciple is the commandment of love, “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.” Only when the disciples are permeated with God’s love, they can meet Jesus’ desire which is “to sacrifice one’s life for others” as Jesus sacrificed his life for people.

2.2/ Jesus chose the apostles as his friends: This is one thing which Jesus’ disciples can never dream of. Jesus himself is God and wants to be people’s friend. Jesus is the master and wants to consider his disciples as friends. Jesus required only one condition to be his friends, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Therefore, when people keep Jesus’ commandments, they become his friends. Jesus showed that they considered his disciples as friends before they even keep his commandments, “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.” They already knew all what Jesus did because he revealed and taught them all things.

2.3/ Jesus chose his apostles, not they chose him: People need to remember this principle: God is always the initiator in love, creation, education, salvation, selection and sending out, as Jesus confirmed: "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."

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

- God loves us first. His love is expressed through many events of history: creation, providence, redemption, sanctification, selection and sending out.

- We should respond to His love by keeping all what Jesus commanded us. To obey what he taught shall help us to overcome all of our weaknesses and to avoid their results.

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