Memory of the Church

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Memory of St. Augustine of Canterbury (+605 ca.), bishop, father of the English church.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 1,15-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers -- there were about a hundred and twenty people in the congregation,

'Brothers,' he said, 'the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who acted as guide to the men who arrested Jesus-

after being one of our number and sharing our ministry.

As you know, he bought a plot of land with the money he was paid for his crime. He fell headlong and burst open, and all his entrails poured out.

Everybody in Jerusalem heard about it and the plot came to be called "Bloody Acre", in their language Hakeldama.

Now in the Book of Psalms it says: Reduce his encampment to ruin and leave his tent unoccupied. And again: Let someone else take over his office.

'Out of the men who have been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was living with us,

from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us, one must be appointed to serve with us as a witness to his resurrection.'

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias,

they prayed, 'Lord, you can read everyone's heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen

to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.'

They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After Judas’s tragic defection, the Apostles were no longer twelve, but eleven. The number twelve needed to be re-established, because it indicated the twelve tribes of Israel. And, from the beginning, Jesus had wanted all twelve tribes to have the Gospel; no one was to be excluded from it. Not only is it impossible for the tribes of Israel to be without the Gospel, all of the people of the entire world need this word of salvation. The Gospel, by its nature, is not reserved for few privileged people. It is written, in fact, "God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34). No one, not even the most miserable person, is excluded from this word of mercy. If anything, Jesus came upon this earth precisely for the excluded, as he himself had said. The apostles in order to obey the universality of the Gospel had to elect a twelfth. Jesus’ universal spirit is an integral part of the Christian community since its first steps. The twelfth could not be just anyone: the issue was not simply reorganizing the Church in a more rational way. The twelfth should be only one among those who had lived with Jesus from the time of his baptism until the resurrection. We can spiritually broaden this perspective saying that the one who proclaims the Gospel must live with an intimate, personal bond with Jesus. Christian testimony is not simply the propagation of a doctrine or an ideology; rather, it is the witness of a direct and vital relationship with Christ. This does not require any particular specialisation: anyone who welcomes the Gospel into his or her heart and who follows not with words but with deeds, is its witness everywhere he or she is found: at home, in the office, on the road, and at work. The choice of the twelfth, in the end, means that each one of us can and must be the "twelfth", that is, a faithful witness to the Gospel. In the name of Matthias we can recognize the name of each of us.