picture from catholicmemes.com
Today is the solemnity of the Ascension, as well as the feast of the Apostle, Saint Matthias. After Judas hung himself, the apostles thought it would be fit for them to appoint a twelfth as Jesus first appointed them. St. Peter set the requirement for candidates. They must have witnessed Jesus’ entire ministry, and be able to witness to the events that took place during that time. They voted, either Barsabbas or Matthias. One of them would become one of the twelve. And the first pick of the NFL (National Faith League) 33-ish AD Draft is…Matthias! Okay, there wasn’t actually a draft. The apostles prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, much as the cardinals do when electing a new Pope. The point is that the Holy Spirit will always guide the church through rough times and back on to the correct path. When the Papacy was moved to Avignon, the Holy Spirit inspired Saints to move him back to Rome where he belongs.
Today’s Gospel for the feast of St. Matthias is also very inspiring. The Gospel from usccb.org:
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
I thought this reading was amazing. Earlier on in the gospel, before Pentecost (the Confirmation of the Apostles), Jesus told us to love your neighbor as yourself. Now he has commanded us to love each other as He loved us, to the point of death as Jesus explained. No greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends. This is mostly meant in a non-literal sense. Sure, he is telling you to be willing to literally die for your faith, but He rarely requires it of the average person. He does want everyone to die to themselves so that others may flourish. Put your neighbor’s needs before your own.
Jesus also said that He calls us friends, no longer slaves. It was not us who chose Him, but He who chose us. This ties back to my earlier post The Mission. A young man does not decide he wishes to become a priest or a married man, God gives him the great mission of that vocation, and the man follows through with it. You did not decide to be in the place you are in right now, good or bad. To some extent your actions brought you here, but nevertheless, God has you right where He wants you.
Jesus’ last statement in this reading is to love one another. It wraps up all He just said. Your mission is to love one another as God has loved you. Love everyone you see everyday. That super annoying guy at the lunch table that won’t stop spitting over all your food when he talks? Love him. That one guys at the movie theatre that kicks your seat from behind? Love him. That one guy at McDonald’s that gives you the wrong meal twice? Guess what, love him too. You have so many opportunities love others, so, what are you waiting for?