The Choice of Saint Matthias

In today Office of Readings for the feast of Saint Matthias, Saint John Chrysostom writes ‘neque dixerunt: Elige, sed ostende electum – quem elegeris, inquit‘, that is, the Apostles were not told to choose who was to replace Judas the traitor, but asked God to show them the one whom He had already chosen.

I joke with students that we should all be ‘pro-choice’ Catholics, for who is more in favour of human freedom – which implies being able to choose this or that or another thing – than the Catholic Church? We just don’t believe in making bad choices, even if people are still ‘free’ to make them. For every choice for sin and darkness makes us a ‘slave’ of that very sin, and hence, paradoxically, less free. No one is less pro-choice than those who are pro-abortion.

Our choices, as far as we are able in this fractious, dark world, must always be in accord with the ‘will of God’, manifested in those free choices we make, and the best way to discern what is God’s choice is to pray that He manifest to us, through whatever ways and means He chooses. And the bigger and more momentous the choice, the more we should pray and discern.

All that is known for certain of this new-twelfth Apostle is that when the choice came down to two, between him and Joseph Barsabbas, Matthias was elected by ‘lots’, signifying that God’s own choice and will can be manifested by various means, even the drawing of straws, so long as we are open to the promptings and counsel of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostles definitely were. As I heard a priest said in a sermon, we should aspire to the humility of Matthias, so that we may hear the voice of God in our hearts. We should not presume, and rather take the lowest place, so that He may call us higher, in His own good time and means. It is usually best if leadership and ‘greatness’ are thrust upon us, rather than sought and seized, as is so the custom in our modern political arena. We should remind ourselves that ambition, seeking honours and authority we do not deserve or for which we are not ready, nor even perhaps ‘chosen’, is a vice, not a virtue.

Tradition has it that Matthias preached the faith in Cappadocia, and suffered martyrdom either there or in Jerusalem. Such was his own lot, as Saint Peter prophesied, that he would be a witness, a ‘martyr’, to the resurrection of Christ, which we can attain only through our own passing from life to death to life again.

And while on bad choices, I wrote the other on the March, this is also the anniversary, if such be the term, of the passing of the nefarious Bill C-150 under Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in 1969, with John Turner as Justice Minister (both Catholics), legalizing abortion (then under strict conditions, two doctors and life and health and such), while also instantiating gun control and laws for drinking and driving (becoming the invasive long-gun registry and RIDE program), while decriminalizing ‘homosexual acts’ (that is, sodomy) and the sale of contraceptives. Ironically, the bill also criminalized ‘harassing phone calls, misleading advertising and cruelty to animals’, signifying the hierarchy of values in the Trudeaupian universe even fifty years ago. Hmm.

Mr. Turner described the Bill, which passed after heated debate 149 to 55, as “the most important and all-embracing reform of the criminal and penal law ever attempted at one time in this country”, while Mr. Trudeau defended his own support, declaring that the ‘state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation’. It is not clear if he was referring to what homosexuals do in private, to contraception, or to abortion (which is generally used to ‘negate’ the living fruit of sexual acts), or all of the above.

Mr. Trudeau Junior has taken his father’s principles to their logical conclusion: Abortion has gone from being seen as a sad and tragic necessity in certain extreme cases (in 1969), to a fundamental, private right, a choice reserved to the woman herself, for any reason whatsoever, between her and her conscience – or what is left of it – paid for by the state. As such, in the mind of Trudeau and most others of his ilk (including, apparently, most members of Parliament, at least of the Liberals and NDP) those who oppose this right have branded themselves enemies of the state and of ‘freedom of choice’. Hence, ironically, while striving to the keep the state out of the bedroom, they have allowed it not only into the womb of mothers, but also into our very conscience, the very ‘sanctuary of Man’, where God ‘speaks to our heart.

Hence, our current Prime Minister has declared categorically that he will brook no opposition to the legalized killing of the unborn (as well as the elderly, sick and whoever else may want, or need, to be ‘euthanized’), making himself a prophet and guardian of the culture of death, however aware he is of this status in his own darkened conscience.

Ah, yes, light and darkness. The walls of oppression are closing in, and we may all soon be called to be ‘witnesses’ with Saint Matthias in ways we might not have imagined, and where, with Saint Peter, we might rather not go. But the path of persecution, if we but remain faithful, leads not Judas’ slavery to despair – whatever his final fate – but to a far, far better place, full of hope, light and ineffable joy, where we will be fully free.