Saint Matthias appears and disappears within the space of a few verses in the first reading. He is chosen by lot to fill the place left vacant by the traitor Judas Iscariot, and then he promptly vanishes and the Scriptures never mention him again. Matthias was selected because he was a witness to the public life, death and resurrection of Our Lord. This is his true claim to fame. The fact that the Church honours him today as a martyr indicates that he gave his life for Christ, as did so many Christians in those early years.
Our Lord’s farewell discourse in St. John’s Gospel describes this kind of witness. The true disciple stays close to Christ, keeps his commandments, and testifies to the good news of salvation. The true disciple is prepared to lay down his life for another, and show the way Jesus walked to glory. The true disciple is filled with joy and lets the world know what it means to be, not a slave, but a friend of God.
Some disciples, like Judas Iscariot, missed the real meaning of Jesus. Even though Judas was in the company of the Apostles right from the start, he didn’t stay around long enough to witness the Resurrection. The pain of following the Crucified Christ can discourage anyone, and Judas serves as an example to us not to take our close association with Our Lord for granted. On the other hand Saint Matthias gives us hope. As anonymous and forgotten as he and we may be in the annals of history, we can be witnesses too. And the fruit we bear through that witness of faith and love will be around long after we are dead and buried.
Saint Matthias, pray for us.