Reading Acts 1
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk [c] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, "Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry."
18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 "For," said Peter, "it is written in the Book of Psalms:
" 'May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,'
" 'May another take his place of leadership.'
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."
23 So they proposed the names of two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Gospel John 15
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Matthias is a name derived from the Greek Ματθιας, in origin similar to Matthew. His name is not mentioned anywhere in the gospels. Matthias first appears in Acts, when Peter proposes to 120 disciples that they choose a replacement for the traitor Judas Iscariot who is said to have committed suicide.
So as we heard in a previous week, they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Nothing more we can say about him. There is no further mention of Matthias in the NT. In one tradition he is said to have preached the gospel in Ethiopia. In another, he is said to have been stoned by the Jews in Jerusalem and subsequently beheaded.
There is a lost gospel of Matthias, which Clement of Alexandria quotes from in his writings. Other church fathers also refer to it, but we only have a brief sentence which urges its readers to deny the flesh and increase the growth of the soul through faith and knowledge.
His remains were said to have been found by the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine and taken to the oldest German town of Trier where they were interred in the Abbey of St Matthias.
That’s all we know – precious little – but as one of the first apostles Matthias has his own feast day, either today or in other churches on February 24.
Even though there is not a paired gospel reading as Matthias does not figure in the gospels, we have instead a passage from John that follows Sunday’s reading about The True Vine. As Christians we are branches of Jesus the Vine, and God is the vine dresser. We are commanded to remain in Christ, as branches have no separate existence of their own, but wither and die and are consigned to the fire.
If we do remain in Christ, we remain also in his love. Not as servants, but as friends. Friends who will bear fruit because we are part of Christ. Friends that love one another, bearing fruit that will last.
“This is my command” Jesus says. “Love each other.” Who says understanding the Christian faith is complicated?