Feast of Saint Matthias, apostle
(Acts 1:15-17.20-26; John 15:9-17)
Today’s first reading relating the election of Matthias contains one critical message. The apostles considered it necessary to select a replacement for Judas. Having twelve men who would testify to Jesus’ resurrection was essential. Why is this? Shortly the Holy Spirit will descend upon the group of Jesus’ disciples to begin the mission to the ends of the earth. If this new reality was to be the New Israel then it would have to be modeled after the Old Israel. Each apostle would represent one son of Israel, one of the nation’s twelve tribes.
After all, Israel is really more than a nation or a country. It is a people with an identity and a mission. It belongs to God and is to reflect his holiness in the world. This people has been formed over centuries by God’s Law. Of course, it failed to live it fully because it lacked the Holy Spirit. Now it will receive the Spirit so that it may accomplish its mission. The Spirit will also compel the people outward to gather adherents around the world.
The Church is the New Israel, the people of God. Its success in exemplifying holiness is reflected in its saints. Sadly sinners belong to the Church as well. It will take more centuries to achieve universal sanctity, but there are signs of progress. But more than time, universal holiness depends upon our living the Law that Jesus summarizes in today’s gospel. We are to love one another as he loves us.