The Forgotten Apostle | The Rev. Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

05.10.24 | Celebration, Community, International, Pulpit Posts, World

This Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, transferred forward a few days from its official date this year on Thursday, May 9. It is wonderful to commemorate this pivotal part of Jesus’ story — the moment, after his resurrection, when he ascended into heaven. There is a small downside to transferring the feast day, though, which is that we miss out on scripture passages appointed for the seventh Sunday of Easter. This year that means that we don’t hear about Matthias in Acts 1:15-17, 21-26.

You remember Matthias, right? If not, you’re not alone. He only turns up briefly at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. After Jesus’ ascension, Peter addressed a crowd of about 120 believers, and reminded them that Judas had originally been one of the twelve apostles. The lectionary then delicately skips over the next few verses, which detail the ignominious death of Jesus’ betrayer. Peter continued by announcing that one of the men who have accompanied Jesus and his apostles for during Jesus’ mission should take Judas’ place in ministry as an apostle.

Two men were nominated, one of whom was Matthias. The group prayed for God’s guidance, and then cast lots — and Matthias was chosen. He was officially added as an apostle to the remaining eleven. And then…well, nothing. We never hear about him again!

Matthias’ story always makes me think of all the followers of Jesus throughout history whom we know very little about. Many have been faithful disciples, and yet they are often not remembered or celebrated. Although Matthias does have his own feast day, on February 24, the rest of the year he tends to be forgotten again. But that takes nothing away from the ministry he performed as a witness to the good news of Christ.

May Matthias inspire each of us in our many and varied ministries and acts of service for God — that no matter whether we are heralded or celebrated for our work, we may still be counted as one of Jesus’ faithful disciples!

Title: Ascension; Artist: French (Picardy); Scripture: Luke 24:44-53

Title: Ascension; Date: ca. 1490-1500; Artist: French (Picardy); Building: Art Institute of Chicago; Object/Function: Painting, panel; City/Town: Chicago; State: IL; Country: United States; Scripture: Luke 24:44-53. Notes: Altarpiece from Thuison-les-Abbeville, France. Permalink: https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56520 (Use this link to refer back to this image.)

Rev. Susan Hill

Rev. Susan Hill

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