Monday, February 25, 2008

The Proper of the Day: St. Matthias the Apostle

Today the Church celebrates with a Major Feast the life and ministry of St. Matthias, the successor to Judas Iscariot. We don’t know a whole lot about Matthias. He was, according to the book of Acts, selected by lot after the eleven apostles nominated him and another disciple named Joseph Barsabbas. Nothing more is ever said of either Joseph or Matthias in the New Testament. There is some interesting if probably apocryphal information at the Patron Saints Index, particularly how he died and where he preached. (The site does not say where it gets their information.) I’m not exactly sure what good it was that Matthias was named an Apostle, given his otherwise complete anonymity, but there it is. And I have to wonder what Joseph B. thought of the whole proceeding. Was he upset he wasn’t selected? After all, both had been followers of Jesus “beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” It’s speculated that Joseph (also named Justus acc. to the Anchor Bible Dictionary) was one of the seventy that Jesus sent out in Luke’s Gospel. But again, we know nothing else of him.

It’s rather a good thing, I think, that we don’t follow this model of discernment when selecting suitable candidates for ordained ministry. The process is stressful enough as it is, but to get nearly to the end and to be told that you are perfectly suitable in all respects for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, but that there are too many candidates and the Commission on Ministry is going to throw dice to determine who to recommend to the Bishop, and what number would you like? That would be horrible!

Check out the lessons appointed in the Office for today (scroll down a bit until you those for Matthias). Except for the first lesson at Morning Prayer, they seem a little weird to me. The Second lesson at MP seems to be a slam on Judas Iscariot, given its context as appointed for this feast, but the passage itself is not written to denigrate Judas specifically at all. (It is, however, a great basis for all sorts of horror movies, such as the Damien series.) And both Evening Prayer lessons have to do with either Samuel or Paul telling audiences that they’ve been faithful and prudent and that nothing can be held against them. Again, this is interesting enough in the contexts of the books the passages are drawn from, but I really don’t see the connection to Matthias at all. And the lessons for Matthias from the 1928 edition of the BCP if anything, are even more bizarre. Anyone have any ideas?

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.



Troglodyteus said...

It is easy to see that Matthias
is the patron of motorcyclists.
He has a chopper!

So why the chopper? It’s in about 90% of the pictures I could find of him. However, no explanation.

RFSJ said...

By tradition, Matthias was stoned to death and then beheaded. Thus, the axe. See for details.