Commentary on the Gospel of
St. Matthias, Feast. Ministry of Discernment
- Scriptural tradition: another should take his office
- Criteria: a witness to the resurrection, from John’s baptism to Jesus’ ascension
- Discernment: prayer, then, cast lot – ‘we and the Holy Spirit.’
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthias, who became one of the twelve by the grace of ‘casting lot!’ Thanks to the scriptural tradition cited by St. Peter, namely that the office abandoned by Judas should be occupied by another. God speaks to us through his Word, and his Word as lived by his children gradually constitute ‘their tradition’. In other words, God’s Word practised yesterday, remains his Word always, hence appreciatively practised today. God’s Word, once released, does not die, lives on! Let’s keep deriving inspirations from the Scriptural tradition.
And so, owing to the tradition, the leader of the early church, gives clear criteria for choosing the person for replacement. We keep in mind that they were about one hundred and twenty men and women present. To qualify, the person must have been a disciple from the time Jesus was baptised by John at River Jordan till when he ascended. And the mission is to witness to the resurrection of the Lord. Every aspect of the conditions is stated with clarity. It’s not going to be a novice nor a new convert; it’s not about their position in the church or society – instead, the vocation is to witness to the resurrection! Indeed, we have a lot to learn from these our brothers and sisters in faith, especially when choosing leaders in the church. Clearly their approach is not just democratic, not just copying from the secular world. No, the approach is discernment!
They teach us that discernment is ‘an act of God in which the human beings cooperate.’ Following the criteria, two persons were chosen, without fear or favour – only those who qualified were enlisted! And now, they embark on prayers – ‘let the will of God be done!’ To decipher his will, no lobbied voting, instead they cast lot.
The Lord Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ It is only true love that animates our honesty in matters of organizing our family – as regards respect for one another; and in choosing community leaders, with regard to fraternal sharing. All are done with the sole aim of bearing witness to the risen Lord. May St. Matthias intercede for us especially in our moments of decision-making.