thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Feast of St. Matthias
Readings may be found here
After the reign of King Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel and its twelve tribes divided in civil war, producing a Northern Kingdom (10 tribes) and a Southern Kingdom around Jerusalem (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin). This now divided people fell to invasions. The northern tribes were exiled and dispersed by the Assyrian Empire (the “lost tribes”). The southern kingdom experienced conquest and exile at the hand of the Babylonian Empire. These exiles, however, were returned to Judah and Jerusalem when the Persians in turn conquered Babylon.
For some 500 years before Christ, the returned exiles struggled to reestablish themselves in the face of foreign invasion, conquest, and oppression by Persians, Greeks, and finally Romans. In this now reduced land of Judah, they dreamed of the Golden Age of King David and the restoration of the fullness of Israel and her twelve tribes.
When Jesus called twelve apostles, He was signaling that the moment of restoration and renewal had arrived – albeit in a form very different from previous expectations. The reign of God now revealed will not be an earthly power like that of Israel of old, but the Person of the Son of God. And as we hear today, this Jesus brings a restoration of the human heart, summoned into the communion of love between Father and Son. Remember that when the ancient people had called for a king, the Prophet Samuel had warned them that an earthly king would lord it over them, taxing and working them for his own benefit. They would have been wiser to remain with the Lord as their Sovereign for His interest was ever and own their own well-being. Thus we hear Jesus today say that His own are not servants, but friends. Now as He loves them, He commands them so to love.
In the passage from Acts, on this Feast of Matthias, we see the body of Apostles restored to the fullness of twelve after the betrayal and death of Judas. This Divine intervention again signals restoration to the longed for twelve tribes – a people made whole once again. You and I are called to holiness and in a very real sense, holiness is “wholeness.” The grace of Jesus Christ restores us to what God intended and made us to be: beings who love and are loved.