The History of Apostolic Succession

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Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Matthias. The Gospel is from John 15, where Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” The first reading from Acts 1 tells us the story of how Matthias was chosen as the first successor of an Apostle.

Peter stands up in the assembly and talks about how Judas was numbered among the Twelve. The Apostles realized that they were not just one-time appointees of Jesus, but that the Lord had given them an office, one which needed to be filled when there was a vacancy. Peter quotes the Psalms, “May another take his office.” So they took it to prayer, cast lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, “and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.” Thus began Apostolic succession.

The Catholic Church is the only Church that is bold enough to claim that She was founded by Jesus. This notion of Apostolic succession is the reason. Every Catholic bishop and priest can trace his ministerial lineage back to one of the Twelve. St. Matthias filled an office, and those offices have been filled ever since, for nearly 2000 years. Our bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and our Pope the successor of St. Peter. No other Church can make this claim. And nobody made this up. Look at your Bible and follow through on history.

Father, through the intercession of St. Matthias, bless and keep our bishops, the successors of the Apostles. May they be the holy and good shepherds that You call them to be. Amen.

Today’s Readings

1 comment

  • Carl: May 14, 2020

    I took a lot of comfort in “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…" Of the Twelve, Matthias was not one of the most well-known, but an Apostle nonetheless.

    I often hear Catholic friends question themselves and ask if they are doing enough; serving God as He desires; doing His Work; etc. I can certainly relate as I can go there myself. (Not everyone can be a Gus Lloyd! :) )

    So, though Matthias (and others) is not as well-known as Peter, James, John, they all served God. I (we) need to remember that we are all called and that most of us will be serving Him behind the scenes. He chooses those who will stand out, but is fully aware of how we all serve.

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