Matthias is an intriguing character from this past Sunday’s fIrst reading from the Acts of the Apostles, and I believe I can learn from his story. (In brief outline, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as an Apostle.) To me, the key message is that if we have become part of a group, we should be willing to accept new members.
For instance, I am the great-grandson of Italian immigrants. That being the case, how could I ever take a cold-hearted position regarding those people who seek citizenship in the United States now? It reminds me of a comedian who describes a man emigrating to the United States, walking in, and then turning around to say to the next person in line “OK, we’re full now.” It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Maybe part of the reason I think this way is because I came to practice Catholicism a little later in life. I went through RCIA* in college. I’ve now been a practicing Catholic longer than I wasn’t, but I still feel like an outsider sometimes. These outsider feelings are my failing, ultimately, especially considering how welcoming our parish has always been.
I should be thinking of the story of Matthias. I should be thinking of the parable of the workers in the vineyard, and how the workers who arrived later received the same pay as those who labored all day. I should be considering that the economics of God are not the economics of man. God doesn’t check your punchcard to see when you arrived. God doesn’t check your membership card to see if you were a founding member.
So I pray that I never act in a way that serves to exclude others from the grace of God. Now that I’ve been fortunate enough to be introduced to Jesus (thanks to my wife), I pray that I always do my best to introduce Him to others, and to invite new members into His group.
* Saint Brigid says, ” RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, an amazing process that welcomes adults (and children old enough to understand) into the Catholic Church.