In the first of our readings today we heard of Matthias, who was recently remembered in the Church’s calendar as Matthias the Apostle.
- the man chosen, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to replace Judas in the company of the apostles;
- one who had journeyed with Jesus throughout the entirety of his ministry;
- one who was ready to accept the challenge of discipleship, and apostleship!
Today, we are in a gap … a gap between the Ascension of Our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit … next Sunday is the great feast of Pentecost!
We are in a gap that provides us with the opportunity to consider our own responses to God’s call … God’s call to both discipleship and apostleship.
Alongside the account of Matthias’ welcome into the company of the apostles, we have a gospel reading in which Jesus is praying.
This isn’t Jesus’ last prayer, but it is the last one in which the disciples shared …
- when he prayed during his time of Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples had fallen asleep.
- when he cried from the cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? … the disciples themselves had forsaken him.
We know that the disciples had said: Lord, teach us to pray.
But, on the last night they spent together, Jesus wasn’t teaching them to pray … rather, he was praying for them.
The disciples must have felt so much confusion as Jesus prayed: I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world.
From our post-resurrection vantage point it is easy for us to understand the reality of our physical presence in the world … as disciples and apostles … as the physical hands, feet, eyes and loving hearts of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ.
But, for those first disciples it must have been so confusing, so frightening.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus were still physically present in this world!
Now pause and consider what is entailed in that wish … consider how non-sensical it is!!!
Such a wish turns Jesus into some sort of physical freak, the only man who lived to be two thousand years old.
For the promises of Jesus to become a reality he had to live, die, rise again and ascend to his rightful place at the Father’s right hand.
When we face that fact, we will come to realise that our unrealistic wish is transformed from a non-sensical whim into a personal calling into both discipleship and apostleship.
We are Christ’s physical body on earth …
- we are called and commissioned to bring the love, light and joy of Christ into the lives of others …
- we, like Matthias, are called to take our place in the company of the apostles.
The disciples discerned the need for someone to replace Judas Iscariot in their company:
- two men were identified as suitable candidates;
- the disciples prayed;
- the Holy Spirit spoke;
- Matthias was chosen;
- Matthias accepted the challenge of God’s call, and the work began.
It feels really good to be ‘chosen’ for something, doesn’t it?
When we hear that we have been chosen we feel ‘special’ … all warm inside.
It feels so ‘special’ that the moments we have not been chosen can burn away in our hearts and memories for a very long time …
how well I remember those Wednesday afternoons when I wasn’t chosen to be on football, rugby or cricket teams at school.
But … that is not how it works with God!
In contrast to all those painful moments of human rejection, God does choose us to be on his team … God always chooses us!
Any hesitation or rejection comes from us … it does not come from God.
Of course, there is more to discipleship than the warm feeling that comes from being chosen …
In his prayer, Jesus asks that his disciples might be protected.
Jesus prayed …
I have given them your word, and the world hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.
In the Gospels Jesus speaks of the incredible power of faith … even faith that is as small as a mustard seed … the microscopically small mustard seed that is capable of growing into one of the largest of trees.
Therein lies our calling …
- to trust in the God who chooses us for the challenge of discipleship
- to use our tiny faith and our limited abilities to bring Christ into the lives of all we meet in the world.
All that we are, and all that we do, as people of faith, should be in response to our recognition that we are called, chosen and cherished by the One who created us.
As we journey towards Christ we are challenged to listen out for his call … to accept that we are chosen … to trust and rest in his nurturing embrace as we spread his love, light and joy in this troubled world.
Like Matthias, we are called to not waste our lives in hesitancy and doubt.
Matthias did not only follow Jesus for the whole of his earthly ministry … he continued to follow him … listening to his call … accepting that he had been chosen for a specific task … resting and trusting in his love.
We are called and chosen to do no less than Matthias! Amen.