Today, the church celebrates the feast of St. Matthias. Little is known about Saint Matthias’ life as he is referred to only in the Acts of the Apostles.
Beginning from the baptism of John, until the day of Jesus’ ascension, the twelve apostles, always followed Him, with the exception of Judas Isscariot, who betrayed Jesus, and was filled with guilt, which later resulted in his own suicide. The difference between apostles, which were only twelve of them, sent out by Jesus to spread the gospel, and disciples were simply that any of Jesus’ followers who devoted themselves to learning from Him were his disciples, and an apostle is the chosen one to spread His teachings. All the successors of the apostles were ordained as Bishops.
When Jesus began his public ministry, He chose twelve disciples to follow him. After the suicide of Judas, his replacement was to be found. Peter and the disciples gathered together and quoted a bible passage from the Old Testament.
Acts 1:15-23 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it; and let another take his position of overseer. So, one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So, they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
All the events were foretold by David as per the bible passages written down, that someone should take the place of Judas.
Criterion to be chosen as apostle
An apostle would be someone who had witnessed as much of Jesus’ ministry from the beginning, and who was always with Him, from his Baptism until his Ascension.
Our belief was that only the twelve apostles were with Jesus at all times, but this verse in the Bible makes it clear that there were many unimportant individuals who were not selected to be among the twelve and whose names are not listed. These folks followed Jesus in silence, showing no signs of dissatisfaction or distress at not having been selected.
We might want to be in certain positions, but see that someone else gets the position. Sometimes we have to lead ordinary lives to serve God.
Apart from the twelve apostles, there were other two who always followed Jesus and were faithful without any complaints to him. They worked secretly i.e. Barsabbas and Matthias. When the lot was cast, it fell on Matthias, to be selected as the apostle.
Barsabbas felt rejected, and it was a serious rejection as he was not chosen to be the apostle of the Teacher. But he knew that it was God’s choice to choose Matthias. Further identification of what happened to Barsabbas is unknown. However, as per the history of the church, we come to know that Barsabbas didn’t feel disappointed but continued to sincerely and faithfully follow Jesus and the disciples, as if he is one of them. Later, he was made the Bishop of one city called Eleutheropolis – meaning ‘city of the free’. It is a big city next to Hebron in Palestinian.
If we are selected, we have a great deal of responsibility; if we are not selected, we are set free. Many of us become vengeful, angry, and irritated when we are not selected. During Emperor Nero’s rule, Barsabbas was revered as Saint Justus of Eleutheropolis, and died a martyr’s death, symbolising Christ. God will eventually reward us with unexpected blessings when we serve Him as insignificant people. Sometimes when we expect blessing and don’t receive them, we get disappointed. Barsabbas was raised up despite his frequent rejections; instead of giving up or becoming discouraged, he continued to serve God.
1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.”
During the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, Barsabbas and Matthias were humbled beneath the mighty hand of God; Matthias was lifted up. Because Barsabbas was a bishop, he was likewise held to the same standards as the apostle. Since St. Matthias is represented by all bishops, it is possible that Jesus picked more disciples than the eleven apostles who were chosen directly, and some apostle who was chosen indirectly.
Approximately three years prior, an acquaintance who was a non-Christian was totally destroyed by personal and familial problems. He also struggled with alcohol addiction. He came across Fr. George Panackal V.C. at the Divine Retreat Centre here in the UK. He spent many months living among the Fathers, and followed the Center’s regular schedule, spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and attending retreats. He was assigned some basic tasks during those days, such as cleaning and assisting in the kitchen, and he dutifully carried them out. He used to ask Fr. Joseph, “Why can’t they do these chores that he is doing since there are so many volunteers here?” He thought he should focus on Jesus since it was the house of God, and all the works that he was doing was for God and continued to work hard without waiting for anyone’s appreciation or recognition.
After leaving the center, he reconciled with his family, gave up alcohol and continued with his daily life. He started his own business and God started blessing him abundantly and his business flourished beyond his imagination. Today he is in our midst attending this live streaming, his name is Rakesh Shakaran.
Seeing all his prosperity, he felt that God was speaking to him and telling him; “for all the work you did in my house, your commitment, faithfulness, love for God is counted in Heaven, for that I’m blessing you right now.” God started lifting him up, in due time.
Many times, when we are doing menial work; we don’t receive appreciation, or honour. The thought of rejection and disappointment will naturally come to our mind because we are human Afterall. But we should change and make our thoughts divine. How can we do that?
“Lord, all that I’m doing is not for human appreciation, but with my commitment for you. I want you, Lord, and no one else. “
If we surrender totally and accept all the simple and humble work which the Lord is entrusting upon us, His mighty hand will lift us up in due time, unexpectedly!
Rakesh has completed three years, since he last touched alcohol. As a thanksgiving, he has visited us to spend time with God.
When we are ready to give up our bad habits and wait for the Lord and focus on Him, he will help and lift us up.
Rakesh mentioned that he had thoughts to end his life. One of the volunteers at the Center contacted him, and invited him to Divine. Speaking to Fr. George Panackal was the turning point of his life. During the crucial time of his life, God send some angels to guide him because God cared for him and was watching over him, even when he was drinking.
Don’t we see some ordinary people coming into our lives, unexpectedly, who are leading and guiding us to the right track? We should just follow them because they are angels of God and we will then see miracles in our lives.
Rakesh recalls that when he was dejected, he thought of separating himself from his family and going and living by himself in a small house. But God had other plans for him, by blessing him financially, and in all areas of life.
Hebrew 13:5-6 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
Don’t run after money, it will run away from you. Run after Jesus and everything will run after you. Jesus said, “search first for the kingdom of God and everything else will be added unto you.” When we search God, he will give us back our family, prosperity, business etc. If we run after money, it is the wrong path we are taking, and we will not enjoy peace of mind. Why should we worry about our future? The Lord says, “do not worry, only focus on me, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
We can say with confidence ‘the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me?’ This should be our driving force, for He will lift us up in due time. We just need to stand under the mighty hand of the Lord.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Let us cast all our worries and stress on Him because he cares for you and me. He knows what we are going through. He is the living God who is alive and is with us.
John 6:37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
John 14:18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you”.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.
Have you come to Jesus? We are not chosen because of our own merit.
I know you, even before you are formed in the womb of your mother, says the Lord.
John 17:6 I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Jesus is praying to the Heavenly Father, telling the Father, you have given me so many people and I have made Your name known to them. Many of us are attracted to Jesus by the Father. And Jesus says ‘they were yours and you gave them to me’. All the non-Christians in the world belong to the Heavenly Father, we are all given by the Father to Jesus.
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
When we think about our families, future, finances; just repeat this word of God. If we believe this word and follow Jesus, surely we will be blessed, protected, prospered, filled with joy,and there will be unity in our families.
I’ve seen many so called ‘Christians’ following God in various ministries and parishes. But they are always grumbling, “I’m working hard but no one cares, respects or appreciates me.” We are spoiling the anointing, and blessings that we deserve, by always grumbling.
Are we following Jesus by grumbling, complaining, with tension and stress, by saying, “no one cares for us; the parish priest is not listening to us, and has no time for us?” This is where we fail, and this is where Rakesh was successful because he waited silently under the mighty arms of God, completely trusting Him, and was faithful to the Lord.
This is just one of the many examples which I have mentioned. There are numerous examples like this, and you will find many in your families too.
Psalm 94:14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage
We are the heritage and family property of God. Even if we go away from God, he will come after us. Just like the shepherd searches for the lost sheep, He is searching for us. When we abandon God, lead a sinful life, and completely mess up our life, have we noticed that some people come into our life, advising us not to do these things? These are angels whom God has sent to us. We should listen to them and come back to the Lord.
Genesis 28:15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Trust in God’s promises. As spoken in the bible, just claim them.
How do we claim? By repeating the verses and believing in them. Tell the Lord, “I cast all my anxieties on you and will not be worried about my future, family, health, etc.” This is a very powerful word of God.
The moment we become Christians, follow and accept Jesus; all the promises are for us. Be comforted, consoled, and happy because we have a God who is mighty, healing and lifting us up. When we believe in Him, miracles and wonders will take place in our lives.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Many people without humility want blessings and are not ready to humble and submit themselves to God. It is the nature of our God to exalt those who are humble.
Let us examine our conscience and see what kind of a person we are. Are we searching for positions, fame, name, power etc., or are we surrendering ourselves to God and being humble, ready to do any work that is entrusted to us without complaining, blaming, and expecting nothing in return, but only serving God?
Matthew 23:12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Dear brothers and sisters, all those who are saying, “why my name is not in the list?” or, “why I’m not selected?”, you all will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.