Updated: May 15
Thursday, Fifth Week of Easter
14 May 2020 / Ave Maria LiveStream
Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Today the Church celebrates the Apostle who was chosen to replace Judas, the betrayer of Christ. Matthias completes the number twelve, a sacred number in salvation history. Think of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (see Mt 19:28) or the twenty–four elders of the Apocalypse, twice twelve (Rev 4:4).
We learn an important lesson for Christian living from the choosing of Matthias. Human failure never thwarts the designs of divine providence. Personal sin never trumps God’s plan for our salvation. Of course, the figure of Judas provides a tragic lesson for all Christian believers. Consider that another disciple of Christ betrayed him not once but three times. This disciple, however, wept bitter tears of repentance. Poor Judas, who, like Peter, had heard Jesus teach and demonstrate the divine mercy, despaired. Only God can judge Judas’s personal guilt. At the same time, God ensures that Judas’s sin does not obstruct the universal proclamation of the Gospel.
The choice of Mathias teaches us about Christian hoping. Hoping means that we trust that God can forgive our sins. He is omnipotent. Hoping further means that God wants to forgive our sins. He is all merciful. The virtue of hope provides the springboard for Christian living, even when we recognize our failures and sins. Indeed, those who commit mortal sins still believe that God is omnipotent and all merciful. This belief generates a confidence that we call the virtue of penitence. In other words, nothing should block the believer from pursuing the Christian way of life.
Is final impenitence possible? Yes. However only God can make this judgment about a soul. Our thoughts, on the other hand, should remain fixed on the theological drama of Matthias’s election. God infallibly provides what we need to ensure our salvation. The important lesson involves Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. We must always imitate his penitence and never succumb to Judas’s despair.
Like the number of the Apostles, God’s plan for us remains unaltered. He wants us to find ourselves among the one hundred and forty–four thousand of those marked with “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2–4). A symbolic number that means countless numbers. Twelve times twelve, a biblical way of expressing “a great multitude...from every nation, race, people, and tongue” (Rev. 7:9).