A Heavenly Second Choice

St Matthias has always been important to me. He is the man chosen by the Church to replace Judas and make up the number of the Twelve (cf Acts 1). All three things are significant. First, we see the Church at work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, confidently making choices that will determine the future shape of Christianity. Second, we know that Matthias, by his fidelity, must somehow make up for the infidelity of Judas. Third, we are alerted to the significance of the Twelve: it wasn’t possible to leave Judas’s place empty, but the apostles’ choice is also significant— someone who had been with Jesus since his baptism by John but who was not a member of the inner circle. That is why I tend to think of Matthias as a heavenly ‘second choice’, a patron saint for those of us who are not anyone’s first choice for anything, but who bumble along, as best we can, trying to be faithful, trying to do whatever we are asked, and perhaps sometimes tempted to think that we are somehow second-rate.

Saint Matthias

We know very little about Matthias’s subsequent history. He was plucked from obscurity and to obscurity he returned. We can all find encouragement in that. We don’t have to be great by this world’s reckoning to do great things. We don’t have to be known, or singled out as special, we just have to be; and in our obscurity and fidelity we can achieve the greatest of all achievements: the fulfilment of the vocation to which we are called, whatever that may be. That is worth thinking about: the vocation to which we are called, not the one we would choose for ourselves or the one we would like or dream about, but what we are actually meant to be — God’s choice, not ours.

May St Matthias pray for us all, especially those tempted to confuse being a second choice with being second-rate.

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