May 14, 2020 – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051420.cfm)
A friend of mine once shared to me why she became confused and distressed. She was restless and depressed because of a deep-seated emptiness within her. She felt unloved, rejected and worthless. Her parents separated when she was young, her father was so strict that she could not even express what she needed, her siblings treated her as if she’s not existing, at school she was bullied. She’s aware that she has a house to live, but she has no home where she feels being loved, supported and affirmed. This emptiness in her heart haunted her when she’s asleep even when she’s awake. Her life became so dry and meaningless. She does not know where to go.
To feel being loved and affirmed is everyone’s need. Love gives brightness and meaning to our life even in the midst of suffering and much difficulty. That is why, when love seems absent, life becomes a horror.
This reality reveals the imperfection of our human relationships. Though our relationships are the source of our fulfillment and joy, yet, it is through our human relationships also that we find the deepest pain and frustrations because of rejection and at times betrayal. But, that is not the end of everything because even out of a messy relationship, something can grow.
This is where we can find the presence of God. As God joined us in flesh in our history, God also dwells in our human relationships. Jesus was born into a family and gathered people and made them his friends. Within this context, Jesus experienced rejection as well as betrayal from people closest to him. Yet, despite this painful experiences, we also find redemption, we find forgiveness and find life.
TODAY ON THIS FEAST OF ST. MATTHIAS, AN APOSTLE, OUR READINGS GIVE US THE COMFORT THAT WE ALL NEED WHEN ALL OUR HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS FAIL. WITH IT, WE RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS.
In the Gospel, Jesus says to you and to me, “I love you!” John, who is believed to be the author of this Gospel and traditionally, as the beloved disciple, truly felt the weight of this love. It was because of this love that made him to stand strong even in the midst of confusion at the arrest of Jesus. He followed Jesus on his way to be crucified. John was also present at the foot of the cross of Jesus with Mary and witnessed the death of his Lord. John was also the first to believe in Jesus’ resurrection upon seeing the empty tomb despite his confusion and fears.
However, aside from him, the rest of the disciples of Jesus were nowhere to be found. Judas betrayed his Lord and Master and killed himself. Peter denied Jesus three times. And the rest? They all fled and him themselves because of fear. However, the Lord never abandoned them. The Lord never gave up on them. The Lord will never give up on us.
This is how we find the Gospel truly life-giving. Jesus says, “There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends.” Jesus calls us his friends and nobody can take that away from Jesus. Hence, even with rejection, denial and betrayal, these will not make Jesus to withdraw from us. “You are my friends,” says the Lord.
This is the same love shown by Jesus in the most concrete way, that the disciples were converted. They began to see their imperfection that though they were all unworthy, but Jesus remained faithful till the end. This is the love that made the disciples to become confident and daring. The love that they truly believed is life in itself for them. Thus, as a community, we believed that God first loved us and because God is faithful, God will always love us even if everyone and everything goes wrong.
This love then, empowers the disciples. This is how we find the story of Matthias being chosen to be part of the 12 Apostles who were sent to continue what Jesus has started. Matthias became part of this apostolic ministry that proclaims the life of Jesus and the power of his resurrection.
It is the same love that God tells us today. When rejections, betrayals and fears haunt us, when our relationships fail, and begin to feel unloved, then, Jesus tells each of us, “I LOVE YOU AND YOU ARE MY FRIEND.” God is totally in love with you and with me. Be assured and be confident in that love because His love is constant and faithful.
It should be this same love that would hopefully lead us to see the light and joy even in the midst of suffering and pain in life, even in the midst of rejection and betrayal of people who are close to us, and even in the midst of worries and anxieties in times of pandemic.
This love should also inspire us to respond in love, to express our love to God, to ourselves, and to others even to those who have hurt us and people we do not like. This is the commandment of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.” St. Matthias is a witness to this. This is the reason that he also committed himself to Christ that he may be able to give life to the Church even in the midst of persecution.
Indeed, God’s love is liberating and empowering. This is how Easter becomes glorious because God’s love empowers and liberates. As we are being loved, we are also moved to love.
Loving and being loved certainly make our life worth living. Love gives us purpose and meaning in life and this becomes concrete as we continually reach out to others to express our love and show our kindness. Thus, hopefully, we may not become reasons for others in making their lives miserable and horrible because of our indifferent, childish and selfish desires and intentions.
May I invite you then today, show your kindness to people around you in the most concrete way. Make that person feel being loved as God lets you feel being loved today. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR