St. Matthias was a long-time disciple of Jesus, having been with Him from the time of His Baptism, and witness to His Resurrection. After Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter announced the necessity of choosing a new Apostle to fill the position held by the traitor, Judas Iscariot. Matthias and another long-time disciple, Barsabbas, were proposed. When lots were drawn, Matthias was selected. Matthias was a traveling Apostle, visiting many distant places to preach God’s Word. Although he was martyred, as were the other Apostles, the exact method of martyrdom is not certain. Some sources indicate that he was crucified, while others claim that he was beheaded. It is believed that some of his relics rest in Rome; others may be in a German church, which bears his name.
The feast day of St. Matthias is celebrated on May 14th. This date was chosen because it is between the feasts of Pentecost and Christ’s Ascension, and coincides with the time-period of Matthias’ selection as an Apostle. The story of St. Matthias focuses on the theme of election. It is a reminder that God chooses us to be modern apostles, to receive and proclaim the apostolic faith in our daily lives.
In the early 1900′s, in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, it was the plan of Bishop Charles McDonnell to name a church after each Apostle. When construction of a church in the community of Ridgewood was planned, the name of St. Matthias was selected.
Acts of the Apostles
Chapter 1, Verses 12 – 26
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
15 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, 16 "My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.
18 He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. [a] 19 This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood.
20 For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his encampment become desolate.
May no one dwell in it.’
‘May another take his office.’
21 Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection." 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place." 26 [b] Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.
|a||Luke records a popular tradition about the death of Judas that differs from the one in Matthew 27:5, according to which Judas hanged himself. Here, although the text is not certain, Judas is depicted as purchasing a piece of property with the betrayal money and being killed on it in a fall.|
|b||The need to replace Judas was probably dictated by the symbolism of the number twelve, recalling the twelve tribes of Israel. This symbolism also indicates that for Luke (see Luke 22:30) the Christian church is a reconstituted Israel.|
Image of Saint Matthias the Apostle is public domain. The image was found online at Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church of Picayune, MS and we thank them for allowing us to copy the image from their website. The St. Charles Borromeo site also offers a Second Edition English Translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church free online.
Acts of the Apostles republished with permission of the New American Bible, Copyright © 1991, 1986, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved.