Today is the Feast of St. Matthias, successor of Judas. We often forget that Judas was an apostle along side the other eleven. As is often said, the only difference between Judas and the others is that he did not repent. Since Judas was the first apostle to be leave his “office”, he had to be replaced. It’s always dangerous to force modern ecclesiastical categories on the early church, but in today’s first reading we see the first instance of “apostolic succession”.
From Acts 1.15-26:
One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:
Let his camp be reduced to ruin,
Let there be no one to live in it.
Let someone else take his office.
‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’
Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.