Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of John (15: 9-17) in which Jesus says ‘This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. A person can have no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Afterwards, Fr Paul shares a little about St Matthias whose life we celebrate today.

Fr Paul says Matthias was not originally one of the Twelve; but after the treachery and death of Judas Iscariot, someone was needed to take Judas’s place. Two candidates were selected, and lots were drawn to see which of them should be made one of the Twelve: the choice fell on Matthias. Nothing much else is known about his subsequent history.

Drawing lots to select a candidate for an office sounds strange to us, but it was a recognised Jewish custom. For example, the priest who was to enter the Temple sanctuary and burn incense there was not chosen by a roster system but by lot. Random events, independent of any obvious natural or human cause, were seen as a direct expression of God’s will. Drawing lots was not a substitute for human decision – human beings had chosen Matthias as a candidate, human beings decided which priests were eligible on which days to enter the Temple – but the casting of lots was a way of putting the final choice into the hands of God.

In closing, Fr Paul says, as we do in the tradition of our Church, today we pray…’St Matthias, pray for us!’