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Thirteenth Apostle?

I have always had a soft spot for St Matthias. He was with Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry but not in the inner circle of the Twelve. The first we hear of him is when the Apostles are faced with a crisis. What are they to do about making up the number of the Twelve, now that Judas has abandoned his place in it? That is when we learn about the other disciples who have been baptizing and preaching, faithfully and obscurely, in Jesus' name. It is an important moment in the life of the Church, when the Apostles take on responsibility for the ongoing mission and choose someone to have a special role in it.

Matthias is not the thirteenth Apostle, however. He is enrolled as one of the Twelve. The Church has never quite come to terms with the betrayal from within. Judas has been vilified, and sometimes I think the vilifcation says more about our fears than it does about Judas himself. We project onto him what we do not like about ourselves. If we search our hearts, we all know we have had Judas moments in our lives: times when we have behaved shabbily or affected others adversely. I like to think that the integrity of Matthias somehow compensates for the shortcomings of Judas; that his fidelity somehow makes up for the betrayal. Perhaps we could ask his prayers for our own infidelities, our own falling short of the vocation to which we have been called.

Today, when we are asked to pray and make reparation for the hurt and harm done by those who have abused others, we can also take encouragement from Matthias. We may be people of no importance; what we do may be very small and imperfect in our own eyes and the eyes of those around us; but it is God who judges human hearts and makes our actions fruitful. May he find in us what is pleasing to him as he found it in the heart of St Matthias.