It’s that time of year again – back to school. And with back to school comes fall school team try-outs. It is a time of excitement and anxiety for our teenagers. It is important to them, as it is for many of us, to fit in, to belong to a group. Perhaps that is one reason among others that it hurts so much when one is cut from a team. Also, the enjoyment and pride of playing on a team as well as an opportunity to form friendships end with the chance to participate on a sports team. In the youth group at our church this fall, we have had a few young people experience this disappointment. In my own household, we went through the pain last spring when my son was cut from the baseball team, a sport he loves and has been playing since he was 6. Similar to a bereavement process, he went through a variety of emotions – embarrassment, questioning, anger, resignation, and acceptance. No one likes to be cut from the team.
As his mom, I hurt, too. I turned to the Lord and questioned why He allowed this to be taken away from my hard working son. Then my thoughts turned to Joseph Justus. “Who,” you ask? You know, the guy in the Acts of the Apostles who got cut from the original Cardinals team. Remember when the eleven were waiting in the upper room for the Holy Spirit to come, they decided that someone should take Judas Iscariot’s place on the team.
“It is entirely fitting, therefore, that one of those who was of our company while the Lord Jesus moved among us, from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, should be named as witness with us to his resurrection” (said Peter). At that they nominated two, Joseph, called Barsabbas whose surname was Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed: “O Lord, you read the hearts of men. Make known to us which of these two you choose for this apostolic ministry…” They then drew lots between the two men. The choice fell to Matthias, who was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26)
That’s right, by luck of the draw, Joseph got cut. Sometimes, it seems just that random. Scriptures says no more about Joseph, aka Barsabbas. If it is of any consolation, Scripture makes no mention of Matthias or many of the apostles after Pentecost. Even the Phillip of Acts 8 is probably not the apostle Phillip but one of the newly chosen deacons. Nonetheless, oral tradition has been passed on to us so that we know what became of many of the original twelve, where they traveled and how they were martyred (John being the only one to die a natural death). There are, however, no stories about Joseph that have been handed down to us. So we are left to wonder.
We do know that this is a man who personally knew Jesus. He hung out with Jesus throughout his whole public ministry. He must have stuck with Jesus even when some of his sayings were “hard to endure” (John 6:60). While never chosen as an apostle, he was always a disciple. And I do not believe that he stopped being a disciple just because he was not picked to replace Judas Iscariot. I suppose Joseph went back to doing what he was doing before – following the teachings of Jesus and telling others about him.
God did not reject Joseph. He just had other plans for him. I know that may be hard to swallow and difficult to accept when we have our big chance and do not make the cut. We want to ask God, “Why? What else is there for me to do?” At the time, we just may not see it. Still, asking God “What now?” is a great question that He will answer. So, for all you out there who have experienced the devastation of being cut, remember: “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not woe; plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jer. 29:11). Find another way to get involved in your school, church or community. Share other talents God has given you, for He has given you many. He has, indeed, chosen to need you; He has a task for you. Discover it. Ask St. Joseph Justus, patron of those who have been cut from the team, to pray for you. He will help you discover God’s will for you now.
Copyright 2013 Kelly Guest