Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

May 14, 2021

St. Matthias by Simone Martini (c.1718). Martini (c. 1284 – 1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena. He was a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly influenced the development of the International Gothicstyle.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 113, a prayer whose tone echoes the sentiments of Matthias’s choice as one of the Final Twelve: thanksgiving, joy, hope, and enthusiasm.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,
    praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
    both now and forever.

Psalm 113: 1-2

Picture the Eleven gathered. The shadow of Judas had been erased in the light of the Resurrection. But no mistake had been made in Judas. There were lessons in his shadow that could not have otherwise been learned – by the early Church and by us.

Christ taking leave of the Eleven from the Maestà by Duccio, c. 1310

But we’ll leave those lessons for another time. Today’s feast is about the back-up guy who was God’s first choice all along.

I think about how Matthias stayed in the running for that seat. He was faithful all along. Even when the plot twisted around Judas, still day and night, Matthias trusted God’s plan.

From the rising to the setting of the sun
    is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
    above the heavens is his glory.

Psalm 113: 3-4

As we honor St. Matthias today, let’s ask for the gifts of faithful courage and trusting humility even when life’s script seems to falter. God doesn’t make mistakes, and God is with us until the shadow disappears in Light.

The Lord takes up the weak out of the dust
and lifts up the poor from the ashes. 
The Lord sets them with the wise ones,
with the leaders of the people.

Psalm 113: 7-8

Poetry: St. Matthias Day – John Keble, (1792-1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford, was named after him.

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.
Acts i. 21, 22.

Who is God's chosen priest?
He, who on Christ stands waiting day and night,
Who traceth His holy steps, nor ever ceased,
From Jordan banks to Bethphage height:

Who hath learned lowliness
From his Lord's cradle, patience from His Cross;
Whom poor men's eyes and hearts consent to bless;
To whom, for Christ, the world is loss;

Who both in agony
Hath seen Him and in glory; and in both
Owned Him divine, and yielded, nothing loth,
Body and soul, to live and die,

In witness of his Lord,
In humble following of his Saviour dear:
This is the man to wield th' unearthly sword,
Warring unharmed with sin and fear.

But who can o'er suffice-
What mortal-for this more than angels' task,
Winning or losing souls, Thy life-blood's price?
The gift were too divine to ask.

But Thou hast made it sure
By Thy dear promise to thy Church and Bride,
That Thou, on earth, wouldst aye with her endure,
Till earth to Heaven be purified.

Thou art her only spouse,
Whose arm supports her, on Whose faithful breast
Her persecuted head she meekly bows,
Sure pledge of her eternal rest.

Thou, her unerring guide,
Stayest her fainting steps along the wild;
Thy merit is on the bowers of lust and pride,
That she may pass them undefiled.

Who then, uncalled by Thee,
Dare touch Thy spouse, Thy very self below?
Or who dare count him summoned worthily,
Except Thine hand and seal he show?

Where can Thy seal be found,
But on thou chosen seed, from age to age
By thine anointed heralds duly crowned,
As kings and priests Thy war to wage?

Then fearless walk we forth,
Yet full of trembling, Messengers of God:
Our warrant sure, but doubting of our worth,
By our own shame alike and glory awed.

Dread Searcher of the hearts,
Thou who didst seal by Thy descending Dove
Thy servant's choice, O help us in our parts,
Else helpless found, to learn and teach Thy love.

Music: Laudate Pueri Dominum – Felix Mendelssohn 

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