St. Matthias, Apostle
Acts 1:15-26 Philippians 3:13-21 John 15:1, 6-16 Psalm 15
Who we are and who we will be are the simultaneous product of our own free will and the will of God at work in us. This has been a difficult truth for me, but lately I’ve learned to be more comfortable with this. I’ve learned that there is freedom in understanding that our own actions can only take us so far. Much of our lives’ journeys are in God’s hands.
Today’s lesson in Acts explores the aftermath of Judas Iscariot’s death and the selection of St. Matthias by random lot to replace Judas among the Apostles. Judas’ choice to betray the man he loved set in motion a cornerstone of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Judas’ betrayal was foreseen but neither stopped nor forgiven by God. Forces beyond Judas’ control put him in a place to make that fateful choice. For doing so, Judas suffered death at his own hand and is scorned for eternity.
Conversely, St. Matthias used his free will to live a righteous life, accept the path in front of him, and preach the Gospel in faraway lands. For this choice, according to one tradition, he met his death at the hand of cannibals near the Black Sea.
Thankfully few, if any, of us will ever contend with issues as profound as those that link Judas and St. Matthias. I am grateful that we live smaller lives than that. We are though, in our smaller way, connected by the same equation. Like them, our destination in life is the result of both choice and fate.
Who we are, and who we will be, are never fully in our control. Once we accept that, we can be grateful for the good, and the not-so-good, things that come our way—and we are truly free.