One of our marks as Catholics is our devotion to the saints. Some of us honor the saint of our baptismal name, and many of us have some other favorite saints like St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Patrick. The first reading for today’s Sunday tells the brief story of St. Matthias.
After the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place–He said, “My brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: May another take his office.
The disciples prayed, and chose Matthias. Matthias, unlike the twelve apostles, was not chosen directly by Jesus but by the Church. We are like Matthias in that we did not hear the voice of Christ calling us or feel his hand upon our shoulder in a gesture of welcome. Rather in the sacrament of baptism we were chosen by the Church.
St. Peter declared that the choice for a new apostle should fall upon someone who was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus. Apparently Matthias fit that reason. We have no record of what St. Matthias did after his choice. It is left to us to carry on the mission he was given as a witness of the resurrection. We express what we believe in the profession of faith during every Sunday Mass. We say, “He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again.” These words of faith influence our actions in such a way that our lives would not make sense if we did not believe in the resurrection. We believe that Christ’s resurrection is the example which will lead to our resurrection, that he will come again to raise us from the dead.
If there is no future for us through our resurrection from the dead, then surely we should “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” And yet we know that death is not the end, that a life lived faithfully with Christ will lead to the fullness of life in our resurrection from the dead on the last day.
During our time on this earth we give a further witness to the resurrection.
The reason Jesus was raised from the dead is that the Father loved him in his humanity. The reason there will be a resurrection for us is that God sees the person of his Son within us. He values every human being as precious, body as well as soul, created as we are in the image and likeness of his Son. That is why the Church is pro-life, that is why we are called to honor and respect every human person. Our Catholic respect for every human person is a powerful witness to our faith in the resurrection, both that of Christ and our own.
In our Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, Christ is present as he has been raised from the dead in his glorified body. When we profess our faith in the real presence, we acknowledge that, to put it bluntly, we do not receive a dead body. The Mass is not a wake service or a funeral. It is a celebration of the great truth of which we are to be witnesses: “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.”