To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 1:15-17,20-26; Jn 15:9-17
There is no mention of a Matthias among the lists of disciples or followers of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels, but according to the first reading chosen for the feast of St. Matthias, he had been with Jesus from his baptism by John until his Ascension. In the days following, Peter proposed that the assembled disciples, who numbered about one hundred and twenty, nominate two men to replace Judas. After they had cast lots, the lot fell to Matthias; so he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Though no further information is available about Matthias in the New Testament, he is identified with Zacchaeus and also with Nathanael.
The Gospel text is from the Gospel of John and is part of the Discourse on the Vine and the Branches and focusses on Jesus’ gift of love given to him by his Father.
This love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.
This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).
The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.
It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.
The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self-giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today.
However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.
Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.