What type of Gift and Fruit Am I to God and the Church?
Readings: (1st: Acts 1, 15-17. 20-26; Ps: 113, 1-8; 2nd: Rom 8, 8-1 Gos: Jn 15, 9-17)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
“Someone who has been with us during the whole time that Lord Jesus was traveling around with us…and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection”
Matthias means gift of God. He is a gift of God to the Apostles and to the entire Church of Jesus Christ because he was elected by the power of the Holy Spirit who is the giver of gifts. He is the gift of God because he was a generous offer and an instrument for bearing witness to the risen Christ. Matthias and Barsabbas were proposed to replace Judas, but Matthias was elected. According to an ancient tradition handed down by Clement of Alexandria and confirmed by Eusebius and St. Jerome, Matthias was one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus. Clement of Alexandria further writes that “Matthias was remarkable for inculcating the necessity of mortifying the flesh with its irregular passions and desires”. According to the Greeks, he suffered martyrdom in Colchis, now called Ethiopia. Matthias was not chosen out of prejudice, favoritism, nepotism, tribalism or unprecedented sentiments, but out of good will.
A great lesson that lies herein for us today include the fact that there are conditions or qualities that must qualify us to become disciples, leaders, managers or messengers of Jesus Christ and the Church. Hence we must ask ourselves, these pertinent questions: That position I am struggling for, do I have the qualities required for it, or do I want it for prestige sake? When I elect people in my school, community, state, and country for important positions or awards, what criteria do I use? Do I see those authentically chosen as a gift from God for the salvation of humanity? The second lesson is that, not only should I spend many years as a Seminarian, Priest, Reverend Sister/Brother, a member of CYO, CWO or CMO, etc., I am also expected to bear authentic witness to the risen Christ in any of these capacities. If we do this as Matthias did, then, we can be sure that we are bearing quality fruits that will endure.
The gospel therefore reminds us succinctly that it is God himself who has chosen us as he chose Matthias for a special task, and as a special gift to the people of God. It therefore means that we are not to embark on the task any how it pleases us. Rather, according to the stipulations, demands and dictates of the one who chose us. Matthias was chosen to replace the renegade Judas and he did well by bearing good fruits that has endured till this day. Jesus stressed it thus: “You did not choose me; I chose you and commissioned you to go out to bear fruits that will last”. Also Brother Paul in Ephesians 1, 4 reminds us all that: “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in his presence”. This is the purpose for which God has chosen us and what he expects us to do. He expects us to bear witness to his holiness and to be holy ourselves as Mathias who we celebrate today was. The ball now lies in our court and we are to ask ourselves, what kind of gift and fruit am I?
As I was reflecting over today’s Gospel reading, two sets of fruit trees in my former school environment came rushing into my mind. I have carefully observed their activities, and the patronage they receive from us during my years in the school. The first is the Citrus tree just behind the school chapel. Every year it bears fruits which end up not being consumed by any body. These fruits eventually dry up on the tree and finally fall off at the end of the year. This is because the fruits are not sweet or palatable to the taste buds. The second is a set and specie of mango trees beside the school football pitch which produces big and “enticing” fruits. Unfortunately, before these fruits get ripe they become heavily infested with worms. Indeed these trees bear fruits but their fruits were not good enough for our patronage. They are therefore bad fruits. These are not the kind of fruits the Lord wants from us; he wants fruits that will stand the test of time. What type of fruits am I bearing? Are they sour, bitter, warm-infested or good fruits that testify to the goodness and holiness of God? To achieve this result effectively, Brother Paul appeals to us: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice (gift), holy and acceptable to God …. So that you may discern what the will of God is – what is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom 12, 1). If we do this and bear good fruits like Matthias – the gift of God, whose feast we celebrate today, the Lord and master of the vineyard promises us that: God the father will give you any thing you ask in my name.
Brothers and Sister, let us pray today that God who chose us as he did Matthias, may help us to offer ourselves wholly in order to bear good fruits, fruits that will serve as durable gifts to both God and the Church till the end of time, so that his blessings may be ours.
Peace be with you!