Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saint Matthias, we hardly knew ye...

In the days when Christ walked the earth, a man's reputation was enhanced by the number of names by which he was known.

Today, in celebrating the Feast of Saint Matthias, the Apostle who took Judas' place, we learn that he was one of two disciples proposed for the position. (See Acts 1:15-26)

Peter, head of the Church, knew that the man appointed had to have been with Jesus from the time of His entry into public ministry—that is, from His Baptism by John—until His Resurrection and Ascension. Critical, this requisite, since the New Guy had to be an eye witness to the Good News.

Of the two nominees, one guy had three, count 'em, three names!

"They proposed two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus..."

And then there was plain old Matthias.

All we know about Matthias is that he, like Joseph-Barsabbas-Justus, was with Jesus from the beginning of His public life. Still, this rather unknown fellow was chosen by God, through the infallible actions of the new Church led by the Vicar of Christ, to become one of The Twelve. Tradition tells us that Matthias spread the Good News in what is now Turkey and Russia, receiving the crown of martyrdom somewhere near the Black and Caspian Seas.

Who was this nobody?

We don't know exactly...except that we know God chose him to take his place among the princes of His Church. No miracles are ascribed to Matthias. No sermons nor writings of his remain for our edification. He is mentioned in the Bible—what?—once?

And yet every Roman Catholic priest today celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass wore red vestments in his honor. He is one of The Twelve. The guy with just one name.

Nobody is really a nobody.

From the life of Saint Matthias we can learn that, no matter how lowly our station is in this life, we should be open to the choice of God to carry on the work of our Master.

While searching for something to add to this blog, Google asked me politely: "Did you mean: Saint Matthew?"

No, I meant Matthias. In Hebrew, the name means "gift of Yahweh."

Saint Matthias, pray for us.