Saints Andrew and Thomas by Lorenzo Bernini, ca. 1625 (Palazzo Barberini, Rome)
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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer to Dedicate This Day to God
Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do.
I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.
For a Blessing on the Families of the Land
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who sets the solitary person in the comfort of families; I commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them, I beseech you, every root of bitterness, the desire of boastful vanity, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the parents to the children, and the heart of the children to the parents; and fill us all with true love and charity, so that we put aside petty differences and act with kind affection and the sympathy of brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Where have I had “the desire of boastful vanity”?]
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Count your blessings, not your crosses; count your gains instead of losses.
Count your joys instead of woes; count your friends instead of foes.
Count your smiles instead of tears; count your courage, not your fears.
Count full years instead lean; count kind deeds instead of mean.
Count your health instead of wealth; Love your neighbor as yourself.
Acts 1:21-26 (ESV)
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
[Peter spoke and said] “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Notes on the Scripture
udas was dead, and the little group thinks it right to keep the number of apostles at 12, as Jesus had done. Peter, who has assumed the mantle of leadership, decides on a single qualification, that the man be someone who had witnessed all the events of Jesus’ life and resurrection, so that he might give first-hand witness to them.
The procedure thereafter appears to have been one of consensus; Peter does not dictate. Two men emerge who seem satisfactory to everyone; to decide between them, we today would probably put it to a vote. But they cast lots; in effect, they throw dice, trusting that God will decide.
We might take a lesson from this! They avoided “church politics” as much as possible. And today, in fact, some Amish communities pull names out of a hat to decide which among them will become preachers! All the Amish are expected to know the Gospel; the men picked to lead worship and preach a sermon are not charismatic or popular leaders. They are servants. (See Matthew 23:8-12.)
Since the text is short and simple, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the apostles. (We’ll have to discuss the others at some time in the future. For reference, the twelve apostles were Simon Peter, Andrew, James the Greater, James the Lesser, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot. Matthias was added after Judas Iscariot died.
Matthias. Little is known about Matthias. Some later sources state that he went to preach in Georgia (near Russia) and was martyred in Sevastopol. He is the patron saint of alcoholics.
Peter. Simon Peter, brother of Andrew, was the leader of the church after Christ’s death. Much of his ministry was concentrated on founding the church in Israel, although he was probably martyred in Rome while founding the church there with St. Paul. He wrote two epistles, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Catholics consider him to have been the first Pope. We will read a lot about him in Acts.
St. James (Durer, ca. 1516)
Andrew, the first apostle called by Jesus, was Peter’s brother. They were fishermen and became “fishers of men.” He was a follower of John the Baptist and one of the apostles closest to Jesus. He was famous for traveling to the east and north, and is the patron saint of Russia and the Ukraine.
Matthew (the Evangelist) wrote the Gospel of Matthew. He was a tax collector for Rome, a much despised position, when called by Jesus. He stayed in Jerusalem as the head of the church there for a long time. Tradition tells us he then went to the east, around Persia and northern Greece, where he was martyred. He is the patron saint of accountants.
James (the Greater) was a son of Zebedee and thus John’s brother. His martyrdom by the sword is recounted in Acts. He is said to have spent his later years in Spain, of which he is the patron saint. He had a fiery temper; he and his brother were called the “Sons of Thunder.”
John, James’ brother, is another of the more prominent apostles and became a pillar of the church in Jerusalem. He was a prolific writer and gave us a gospel, three epistles, and possibly Revelation. He traveled in Anatolia (Turkey) and founded churches, including (probably) the important church at Ephesus. He was the only apostle who was not martyred, but died of old age. He is the patron saint of the Freemasons.
James (the Lesser) traveled from Jerusalem throughout Egypt and was beaten to death with a fuller’s (wool washer’s) club in lower Egypt. He is the patron saint of pharmacists.