Friday, May 14, 2010

Feast of St. Matthias, apostle

(Acts 1:15-17.20-26; John 15: 9-17)

In a Catholic elementary school many years ago, Fr. Joe came to each class at the end of the year to ask the pupils to sign up for the “Friends of Christ” club. He distributed a polished white, three-by-five inches card with the dates of every Thursday during the summer vacation. Those who wanted to join the club would attend 8:30 a.m. mass on those days and circle the date when they returned home. Nothing special was to be done with the card when summer ended. There were no prizes for perfect attendance. There was not even a party after the last Thursday mass of vacation. But many of the children accepted Fr. Joe’s offer. They certainly did want to be friends of the Lord.

And why not? After all, it is always good to have a friend in high places. What is rather astonishing, however, is that Christ would want to make friends with us! As we see in the gospel today, Jesus offers friendship to his disciples as he shares with them the secrets of his divine family. It is as if he were giving us his cellular telephone number so that we might contact him at any hour, with any need.

We may think of Matthias being selected for the inner core of Jesus’ friends. But the particularity of this group is not actually intimacy with Jesus, at least in John’s gospel where the “beloved disciple” is not among the Twelve. Rather Matthias is being included in the echelon with oversight over the spread of the faith. Lest we think it pure privilege, it needs to be pointed out that membership in this club requires martyrdom along with the promise of a high place in Christ’s kingdom.