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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

The Choice of Matthias

And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:26

While the group of disciples with the apostles is awaiting the fulfillment of the promise of the ascended Lord shortly before, about one hundred and twenty people are gathered in prayer and meditation, when Peter gets up and points out something to the others. Even before Pentecost, Simon makes his voice heard and pulls the strings of the group. The Risen One had commissioned him to take care of the flock and the lambs (John 21:15-18). The news of Judas' death (suicide) has left cracks in the heads of those present, already stunned by the departure of the Master. He himself had assured him, replying to Peter: "when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). Without Judas, effectively excluded from the throne for his actions, a new twelfth must be ensured.

There are therefore statements that are given to be true but which are not precise, such as the one that the apostles were twelve. In fact, twelve disciples were called to be the first apostles, but at the beginning of the book of Acts we find the thirteenth and later the fourteenth (Saul of Tarsus). According to Eusebius of Caesarea and Epiphanius of Salamis he was one of the seventy-two disciples of whom Luke speaks in chapter 10 of his Gospel, and designated by Jesus to precede him in the places where he was about to go. Consequently, Joseph too must have taken part in the expedition. He was probably the brother of Judas mentioned later in Acts (15:22), and chosen with Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. In fact, this Judas is also called "Barsabba" (son of Šĕbhā). The fact that he was nicknamed "the righteous" says a lot about him as a person. Furthermore, both were part of the extended group of disciples from the very beginning, "from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection" (Acts 1:22).

What about Joseph, the one called to be the alternative to Matthias, but who will see the other prevail in the draw. Considered in the same way as Matthias, he has the opportunity to join the ranks of the apostles. Luca in drafting the story offers us a skimpy news of the fact, with no personal details beyond the name of those involved. There are no reactions from those present, neither before nor after. There are no words from the two interested parties after the outcome of the draw. Precisely on this point, I tried to imagine the scene, to immerse myself in the minds of both of them, to be among about one hundred and twenty. On the one hand, certainly joy. On the other, a calm disappointment, perhaps. And what if, on the other hand, we really had two people in front of us at the level of the apostles? We find it hard to compare ourselves with those who have a noble soul and a well-disposed spirit. Peter avoids personal choice, and together with the others he relies beyond all human understanding to the draw, certain that whoever is chosen, that will be. It was nothing new in the Jewish world. Nobody shouts conspiracy or calls for repetition. There is something supernatural in the air, which cannot be ruined by human carnality.

What happens next is out of the pages of Acts, except for the fact that the same group finds itself "of equal consent" a few days later to live the experience of Pentecost. The election of Mattia is not the exclusion of Joseph. Both are and will remain disciples of the Master. Only a "right", differently from us, could remain in the group as if nothing had happened, indeed who knows that he was not the first to encourage Mattia to accept his vocation and to support him in his responsibility. And let's not forget that the Spirit hadn't filled them yet. These few verses hold a great lesson for anyone who aspires to serve the Lord, whose will remains sovereign, whose unquestionable choice. It doesn't matter to be part of the elite (and there isn't any here!), Or to be among the wingmen and the second lines. What matters is to be part of the plan, of the vision, of the work, of the Church, of the kingdom of God. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 18

April 25, 2 Samuel 21-22; Luke 18:24-43

April 26, 2 Samuel 23-24; Luke 19:1-27

April 27, 1 Kings 1-2; Luke 19:28-48

April 28, 1 Kings 3-5; Luke 20:1-26

April 29, 1 Kings 6-7; Luke 20:27-47

April 30, 1 Kings 8-9; Luke 21:1-19

May 01, 1 Kings 10-11; Luke 21:20-38

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