“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 1:24-26)
“This is my lucky day!” How often have we heard people say that? How often have they lamented saying that? We have heard about people who “hit it big” in a lottery. A few, or several, years later, we end up reading about them being bankrupt. Their “big winning” did nothing for them. As a matter of fact, it led to their downfall.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthias, the lucky loser.
As we heard in the first reading of Mass, the Apostles were distressed that one of their own, Judas Iscariot, had turned traitor. Abandoning any hope in God, Judas did not seek forgiveness. Instead, he took his life.
The Apostles felt it was necessary to replace him since the Lord, after all, gathered twelve people around Himself. After weaning the names down, they drew lots to find out who would be the replacement. That’s right. They drew lots. One would think that the person selected would be the winner, right?
Do you remember what lots were all about in the Old Testament? I can remember another lot “winner”: Jonah. Jonah was running from the Lord as he did not want to go to Nineveh as God had requested. While steeling away on a ship, a great storm developed and the men on the ship believed that the wrath of God was upon them: one of them must have done something seriously wrong. They drew lots and the lot fell to Jonah. Off the ship he went and right into the belly of a huge fish.
The lot also “fell” to Matthias in today’s first reading. The winner was not exactly a winner. The winner was selected to replace one who was missing. The winner would experience what the other Apostles experienced: fear, pain, and hardship — all for the sake of the name of Jesus.
They knew, however, that the world was not their prize. Their prize was the everlasting life to which Jesus would eventually call them. In that regard, they could certainly count themselves winners.
Winners often share their bounty with others. Lottery winners give much to their families and friends and even charitable causes. Our prize is not this world. Our prize is the everlasting life to which Jesus will eventually call us. In that regard, we are winners as well. Perhaps we should act like winners this day.
FAITH ACTION: What part of the prize of your faith have you not shared with others? Take the time today to share your faith. It might be as simple as gathering the family together to pray. It might be to visit someone sick or shut-in. It might be witnessing to a co-worker. Whatever it is, share your bounty with others today.