The Feast of the Blessed Apostle Saint Matthias, 2012
Eusebius calls him by a different name, Tolmai
(but not the Tolmai to which Bartholomew was son).
Nicephorus has him preaching his way across Aethiopia,
dying by crucifixion. But
Aethiopia did not only mean Abyssinia as in Africa, but rather also
Georgia, as in Caucasia: home to ‘barbarians and meat-eaters’ –
– See, hominibus barbariset carnivoris praedicavit in
the Synopsis by St. Dorotheus (of Tyre –
not St. Dorotheos of Gaza – a century or so later).
Dorotheus has Matthias
dead and buried, in Sebastopolis.
The Copts have him in trouble in ‘the city of cannibals’.
Others have him stoned in old Jerusalem.
Hippolytus, in Rome, says no; says Matthias died simply
of old age and common complaints, in the vicinity
of the Holy Sepulchre.
Clement says some said he wasn’t Matthias at all,
But Zacchaeus; though to Clement, Matthias seems more
Hilgenfeld of Tübingen, following Hegel, post-Reformation,
turns Matthias into the Nathaniel
of the Fourth Gospel.
He was elected: by the casting of lots.
He was not chosen: by Christ.
Though he followed Christ,
from His beginning to His end,
Christ had chosen Judas, the Iscariot, who
would have it seems been better not born.
But then Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection,
Ascension would have been thwarted:
And without the conquest of Death,
and the opening of tombs
of Patriarchs, plus Adam and Eve,
no Paraclete: no Pentecost:
no Divine creativity far into our Future.
Judas died: suicide…
And a replacement was crucial
to keep to the number Twelve, and so
two were picked and presented
to the assembled. Lots were cast:
And Matthias was picked; and
Joseph called Barsabbas (a.k.a. Justus)
went away, to be a bishop, somewhere,
and a saint.
But Matthias, chosen accordingly by his peers,
was left with an entire ensuing narrative, that,
according to the Catholic Encyclopedia,
circa 1917, is – ‘without historical value’.
Still he, Matthias – ‘gift of Yahweh’ – is honored
today: and that is enough of a lesson for us all
to sift through.