Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Psalm 113; John 15:9-17
In today’s Gospel, Jesus said: you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. Jesus sees us as friends IF we do what he commands. Before this verse, he said no one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. He defines what love is: it is not feeling good about the other, and neither is it making the other feel good about themselves. Jesus said it is to empty ourselves so the other can live. This love will be painful. It demands a lot from us. We will be hated, we will be insulted, we will suffer. BUT Jesus tells us he has revealed everything he heard from his Father. What has the Father revealed? His love for us in the Person of Jesus.
God shows us how he emptied himself so we may live: he gave his Son who emptied himself on the Cross to open the gates of heaven, and he rose from the dead, to give us new life. This is what God has planned for us. For those who trust Jesus, they already have new life, even if they are in the midst of their suffering. When God created Light on the first day, he separated light from darkness. And there was evening and morning, the first day. The literal translation is: there was dusk (or covering) and dawn (or break forth). The night covered what has broken forth. Sufferings are a veil that covers what is already there: the glory of God through Christ.
We see this in the Gospel where John said as Judas left, it was evening. There was darkness, yet, through this darkness, Jesus speaks of bearing fruit, that will last, meaning for eternity. While God does not cause sufferings, and while we may not know why we suffer, sufferings draw out the fruit God wants us to bear. The veil of suffering will be drawn back to reveal the glory of God. When this will happen, we do not know, but we are sure, this will happen in Jesus.
This is what we see in the Apostle we celebrate today. Matthias was elected as to take over the position of Judas as overseer. The Greek word literally in this passage is episkopen which is where we get the word: episcopate meaning bishop. The old English translations (Douay-Rheims and King James version) translate this as bishopric. The bishopric then is an office that oversees, literally, inspect. We know he was a follower of John the Baptist and later of Jesus and after faithfully following Jesus, he was elected to be an Apostle. After his election, Scripture is silent about him. Tradition has it that he was killed for the faith in Ethiopia.
Matthias shows when we follow Christ faithfully, we will eventually receive the crown of glory from Christ. Matthias silently followed Christ and after his election, quietly did what an Apostle had to do: proclaim the Gospel. He eventually received glory from his Friend, Jesus, when he gave up his life so those who have not heard the Gospel may live.
This is also what we, as Friends of Christ, are called to do: to live faithfully for Christ, to give our lives so others may live. This is not easy because it will be full of sufferings. Yet we know that in the end, the veil of suffering will be lifted up and the glory of God will be revealed, if not in this life, in the next. As we go through sufferings, we remember what the Psalm today tells us: praise the name of the Lord from the rising of the sun to its setting. We remember, there is no other God but the God and Father of Jesus who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth. He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
God is pleased to give us his kingdom and when we believe in him, we already have new life. We are moving towards full possession of that kingdom. Are you suffering today? Come to Jesus. He calls you as friend. He has given his life for you, so you may live. Do not be afraid.
Lord, you emptied your life so I may live the life you have planned for me. Yet, in the midst of these sufferings, I find it hard to believe this is so. Lift up this veil of darkness so I can see the glory of your name, the power of your name that will deliver me from these miseries. Take away my sins, my guilt, my shame. Cleanse me Lord. Heal me Lord. Be my strength through these sufferings so that I may give glory to your name. Jesus, I trust you.