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Monday, May 14, 2012

St. Matthias, the Original Apostolic Successor...

St. Matthias by Peter Paul Rubens
“What is it with you and dates?” a friend once asked me during a men’s parish meeting, after I had rattled off a series of dates in Catholic Church history. Many of my friends started laughing.

I hadn’t even realized I had done it until he called my attention to it.

I can’t help it. One of the many aspects that fascinate me about the Church is its historicity and direct link to Jesus Christ.

In fact, today is a great example. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Matthias, the first man selected by the Apostles to succeed Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide after his betrayal of Christ. In other words, he was the first apostolic successor.

According to the Gospel, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the first order of business, during the first Church Council, was to decide who would replace Judas as a member of the twelve (the original bishops chosen by the Lord).

In the Acts of the Apostles, it states that Peter, who was the first among the Apostles, stood among a group of about a hundred and twenty disciples in the Upper Room and 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: 'Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.' And: 'May another take his office.'

Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection."

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.

Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place."

Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:16-17.20-26)
Through the laying of hands, Matthias was elevated to his role as an Apostle and the Church has had an unbroken line of succession through the same laying of hands from the twelve until today.

And, in case, you like dates, Matthias is said to have been martyred in the year 80 AD...

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