What is more important than how he was chosen is that we know from Luke’s witness about Matthias in the book of Acts is that he was a friend of Jesus “from the beginning until this very day.” So he was one of those one hundred and twenty men and women in the upper room upon whom the Holy Spirit descended. Today’s Gospel invites us to ponder that relationship more closely. What does it mean for Jesus to call us friend? It means he loves us with the same love that the Father loves Him. He loves us with life-giving, redeeming love. He cares for us absolutely.
But how do we know if we are one of His friends? The criteria Jesus establishes according to John’s witness in today’s Gospel, is whether we keep Jesus’ commandments – just as He kept the Father’s commandments. But what are Jesus’ commandments? They are scattered throughout the Gospels, but they are clear and we have been reminded of them over the last few weeks: to forgive anyone who offends us, at least 490 (or so) times a day; to eat the bread broken in Jesus’ memory and to share His cup poured out for the redemption of the world; to serve one another in the manner of the lowliest household slave willing even to kneel and wash the other’s feet; to proclaim the good news of God’s love for us and bring to Baptism those who are given the Spirit of faith; to take up the cross daily and follow Jesus to the death of our own plans, dreams and certainties in order to fulfill the Father’s will; to give bread to the hungry and drink to the thirsty whoever they may be, to forgive our enemies and do good to those who harm us; to address God as Abba and to trust as a small child utterly trusts a good parent. Above all, to love one another with the same intensity as Jesus loves each one of us.
He promised to send the Spirit to make this friendship flourish in us; the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Love – we are not left alone in fear of our enemies or the violence of the world. We don’t even have to judge anyone else’s goodness – we can leave that to God. Why is it so hard to be a friend of Jesus when it fulfills our deepest longings, when it brings the perfection of joy? Because in the end the condition for such friendship for each of us is the same condition that Jesus met: laying down my life for those I love – and even for those I didn’t know that I love – and taking it up again in God’s time and God’s place, not my own. Ignatius said it so well: “Take Lord, receive . . . my entire will.” I don’t know about you, but giving over all that control just isn’t easy for me, even for such a glorious reward as intimacy with Jesus.
St. Matthias, help us to follow the path of friendship with Jesus. Amen.
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