7th Sunday of Easter B21
When Jesus ascended to his Father, he left no master plan how his Church would be. However, the Apostles and the rest of the disciples were promised another Advocate, one who would strengthen them and is the Spirit of truth who would guide them to all truth, teaching them everything and reminding them of all that Jesus told them.
Last Sunday we heard about the question of whether or not the Gentiles had to embrace the Jewish faith in order to become a follower of Jesus. The negative answer would become a monumental change in the infant Church’s practice which took the Jewish Christians some time to embrace.
This week we go back to another problem they faced before Pentecost: getting a replacement for Judas Iscariot so that there would be twelve apostles in imitation of the twelve tribes that originally made up Israel. This time the solution wasn’t found in a trance or dream but in an interpretation of the Scriptures and the requirement of the candidates’ being present at John’s baptism and throughout Jesus’ ministry and being a witness to the Resurrection and the Ascension. They narrowed the field to two, prayed to the Lord asking him to point out the winner, gave them lots, and the lot fell to Matthias. It seems to us rather strange that a person was chosen for such an important position by a game of chance. But the 120 brothers seemed okay with it.
But I wonder whatever happened to Judas, a.k.a. Barsabbas, a.k.a. Justus. Did he become bitter? Did his self-esteem take a blow from which he never recovered? After all, it would seem from the prayer offered before the giving of lots that God examined his heart and found him wanting in some way. Did he leave the whole enterprise behind, angered by this divine snub? Or, did he too toil to spread the message in the same obscurity as did the winner, Matthias. Again, we do not know. Never is he or Matthias mentioned again.
As I said at the beginning of this homily, Jesus didn’t leave a master plan for the formation of what would become the Church. While Jesus was being lifted up and taken from them, the apostles were looking intently at the sky, feeling a mix of emotions (loss, abandonment, wonder at the sight) when two men dressed in white garments stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you looking at the sky?” In other words, it’s up to you to build the Kingdom of God, to be heralds of the Good News, to become the Church.
And now the task is given to us to do the best we can with what we have to face the challenges of today, respond to them and continue to go forward with hope and trust that the Father, Son and Spirit will be pleased with our efforts.