“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…” (John 15:16a)
Today we celebrate in the church year the feast of St. Matthias The Apostle. Matthias was elected as the replacement for Judas. Acts 1:15-26 gives the account of the choosing of Matthias who was one of the very first followers of Jesus. Matthias was a believer from the very start of Jesus’ ministry. He was with Jesus at his baptism by John in the Jordan all of the way through until Jesus ascended into heaven.
Very little is known about Matthias; in fact he doesn’t appear in any of the gospels…or any place else in the rest of the New Testament. We have only fragmented stories about his travels, and we’re not certain of how or where he died or even where he is buried. We cannot account fully for this replacement Apostle. But, what we do know is that he was a witness to the life and teachings of Jesus…as Peter describes it in Acts: “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.” (Acts 1:21) And we know that those who were assembled believed Matthias to be worthy enough to join the original eleven who were chosen by Jesus. He was elected to serve as a witness, an ambassador, a teacher, a healer, and a preacher of the Good News of God in Christ.
In the gospel passage for today, Jesus is instructing his disciples to “bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15:16a) As the followers of Christ in this day and age we are also to strive to bring forth this imperishable fruit from within us. But what does that really mean? How do we bear fruit that will last? I’m not talking about varnishing gummy bears. No, my hunch is that for each of those who follow Christ their bearing, “fruit that will last,” will vary somewhat from person to person. Some will produce, perhaps, very public “fruit,” while others may produce fruit that no one sees, but it permanent and lasting all the same. However, in ways both great and small, bearing, “fruit that will last,” will have as central two key ingredients: faith and love. These two main ingredients of our religion are the foundations of our faith in Christ.
Further, whatever fruit we bear that will last will, by it’s very nature, leave us the bearers changed somehow for the experience, as often a brush with the divine seems to do.
As we enter into this season of Lent which demands of us, “self-examination and repentance and; prayer, fasting, and self-denial,” and, “reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word,” (BCP 265) I pray that we will find those moments in our lives where we have acted or been acted upon in love and with faith. I hope and pray that we can, with eyes focused afresh, pay close attention to the moments when we are the bearers of that fruit of faith and of love.
Yours in Christ,
This reflection reminds me of being a member on the Organ Selection Committee at St. George’s, Belleville in 1995. We went into the effort not knowing if or when our organ recommendation would be funded. Through God’s grace, on our final meeting, we received a bequest to fund the entire construction of the organ. The person who submitted the bequest was a member of the committee who was very quiet throughout the process. We all sowed the seeds that bear the fruit of a beautiful pipe organ that has stood at St George’s for nearly 14 years.