Prepared to Serve
John 15:1 [6-16]
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
On this first Friday in Lent the Church commemorates St. Matthias the Apostle. Matthias was not one of the original twelve called by Jesus, but he was chosen by all the assembled apostles to replace Judas Iscariot. The entire story of his selection is found in Acts 1, and I commend this text to you. Led by Peter, the apostles decided to choose from among those who had been followers of Jesus right from the beginning of his ministry that began with the Lord’s baptism. We know little about Matthias, but we do know that he was present from Jesus’ baptism through his resurrection and ascension.
Matthias is never mentioned in the gospels, but we presume that he joined the other apostles in preaching and dedicating himself to serving the people of God by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Various traditions suggest that he was martyred because of his faith and ministry. Our Gospel today certainly applies to Matthias, as well as to all of us to one degree or another. It was God who “chose” him, and God who chooses each of us, for the purpose of going forth to “bear fruit that will last.”
The story of Matthias serves as an inspiration to us on how we may be faithful in the ordering of our lives by our actions, words, and deeds, and our treatment of one another. As a devoted follower of Jesus, Matthias was ready to serve when the opportunity presented itself. We are invited to a holy Lent – a season of preparation- by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. May we all use this season to deepen our relationship with God so that we will be prepared and open to any way that God calls us to bear good fruit. Let the journey begin today.
Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.