|Seahawks' 12th Man|
|E. King Gill, helmet at the ready|
Matthias also stepped up when the chips were down. Shortly after the Ascension of Jesus, the remaining eleven apostles contemplated the vacancy. On the one hand, Jesus had chosen twelve, and twelve was a powerful number (consider the Tribes of Israel, for one example). On the other hand, Jesus had called the Apostles; they did not choose each other. It was a critical moment for the evolution of the Church. The whole concept of apostolic succession would be a lot weaker without the events of Acts 1:23-26.
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
|Matthias with the axe that done him|
The big point is that we are to honor the Twelfth Man (Person!), the one who steps up in the time of need, the one who is still willing to give after not having been tapped as a starter. Sure, he is the patron of carpenters and tailors, and of Gary, Indiana and Great Falls-Billings, Montana. He's also invoked against alcoholism and smallpox. But like any good Twelfth Man, he can be relied upon to take on one more burden, and thus I consider him to be the patron of substitutes of all kinds.
NB. Lots of denominations including the Roman Catholics celebrate his feast of May 14, putting it outside Lent and after the Ascension as a nod to the day he was chosen. Some of the denominations have kept him on February 24, which works for me. The Eastern Orthodox (who probably know best, since he was plainly in their sphere) celebrate him on August 9. If you feel like celebrating him on all three days, I don't think there's a soul to object.
Addendum: In basketball, they call the Twelfth Man the Sixth Man, for obvious reasons. I saw this photo and had to add it. Go Buckeyes! (3/16/13)