Matthias is honored today as the patron of late vocations and, in a cetain sense, that is what he is. But he can, with equal right, be honored as the first in the Church to be called; he was the first to be appointed to a spiritual office by the Church and in the Church. It is clear that Luke recounts this event as a model vocation that would provide a norm for the Church of all times.
How did it take place? Well, first of all, those who would take part in the election came from the Mount of Olives, from the place of Jesus’ agony and glorification. After their dispersal, they were now ready for a new beginning. The disciples found themselves of one mind together in prayer. The call occurred during the prayer of the elect. This was the first and most immediate condition.
Then the second step took place: Peter began to speak. It was his responsibility to take the initiative and to arrange the event. He stated the condition for the election – that is the third step: the one elected must be a witness to Jesus, must have known him, and must have been associated with him. Then came the fourth step: the whole Church looked for a suitable candidate, but not just by discussing, reflecting, and deciding. Once again, choosing is placed in the context of prayer, so that the choice may be God’s choice.
The next step seems strange to us: lots were cast. But already in the Old Testament this was the accepted procedure for leaving a decision to God when it exceeded what man could do It is the Old Testament way of placing the appointment in God’s hands. Therefore we can say with good reason that this procedure shows the sacramentality of the office, for, in the last analysis, no man can place another man in office; that must come from a higher power than man possesses. Thus there is operative here, in a rich and deep theology of vocation, an interplay of many factors: the Church as a whole, the apostolic office, human qualification, and a new gift of God – these elements must all be present. But the Church of today must know, above all else, that the place from which vocationscome is the same now as it was then: the prayer of the Church and the unity and joy she receives therefrom.
From: Gottes Angeisch suchen, pp.29-30