Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection
St. Matthias (February 24), General Reflection


Acts 1:15-26
Philippians 3:13-21
John 15:1, 6-16
Psalm 15

Reflection on St. Matthias
by Rev Elaine Rybak Barber

As we approached the Christmas Season the holiday parties increased in intensity and delighted my heart. Sons, who live in distant lands, would be returning home for the holidays. Relatives, who rarely see one another during the year, would gather together in our family homes to renew friendships and memories on past times. These are good times, which seem even more sentimental, as the time goes by each year.
The highlight for me this year was a gift of an old family photograph taken in decade between 1885 and 1895. The members of the family were gathered together for a picture of the elderly couple with their adult children…..all nine of them. In the center of the photograph are Matthias Rybak and his wife, who had come from Bohemia with their eldest son to this new land in America. In the back row was my grandfather, Matthias Rybak II, who looks amazingly similar in facial features to my sons and first cousins. Since this was a couple strong in their Roman Catholic faith, it was not a surprise that the father and one of his sons would be named with a religious name. So, who exactly was Matthias in the history of the Church and why was he selected as a family name. Since I knew little about Matthias, I went to Saints Galore by David L. Veal on my bookshelf to learn more about Matthias, the Apostle.

Veal states that the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles tells us two men were nominated for the position in the fellowship of the Apostles after the death of Judas. Lots were cast to select either Matthias or Joseph Barsabas for the position as the twelfth Apostle. This selection was part of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the process of what we now call the Apostolic Succession. In today's world the importance of guidance by the Holy Spirit is still seen when other bishops gather to consecrate a new bishop in the Church.

It is disappointing that we know so little of the life of Matthias, the Apostle. Tradition holds that he was an exemplary bishop. On his feast day we pray that the Church might always be "ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors" such as Matthias.
Another tradition suggests that he was with Jesus in his entire public ministry, and that he might have been martyred in Ethiopia.

Though we may not know enough about Matthias, the Apostle, I am fortunate to have clear memories of Matthias Rybak II, my grandfather. He was a gentle, kind, and soft-spoken man. He passed on these same traits to my father, Matthias (Mike) Rybak III. It is my hope and prayer that these ancestors of mine were named after the same type of a man. To be an apostle chosen by the followers of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit as their guide, meant that Matthias was a man of a high personal character, integrity and honor. My memories of my grandfather and father also bring respect for the name of Matthias, the Apostle of Jesus.

Almighty God, who chose your faithful servant Matthias to be counted among the twelve Apostles: Grant that your Church may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors. Amen

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for the Feast of St. Matthias:
First Reading
Acts 1: 15-26
no reflection available
New Testament
Philippians 3:13-21
no reflection available
John 15:1, 6-16
no reflection available

The Rev Elaine Rybak Barber is Priest-in-Charge of All Saints Indian Mission, Minneapolis, MN. She originally wrote this reflection in 2006.  Helen and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Elaine Rybak Barber or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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