Matthias, Who?

a poetic reflection: 

You would think

with someone chosen to replace Judas

as one of the apostles,

we’d know more about him – Matthias…

But he’s one of those saints

that I like to say

has a muddy hagiography.

Even the circumstances of his death

are unclear.


Some say he was stoned and beheaded.

Others say

he preached to Ethiopian cannibals

and was crucified.


What we do know

with some degree of certainty

was that he was one of the seventy

who tagged along

behind Jesus and the disciples

and was well-regarded enough

that the eleven

picked him out of the crowd.


Lack of recognition, however,

did not mean lack of faith or devotion.

He had been following Jesus

ever since John the Baptist

baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.


I think about all the churches

I’ve set foot in over the years

with their “Rogue’s Gallery”

of past rectors on the walls,

the stained glass inscriptions

indicating the source of their funding,

the plaques

commemorating generous givers,

and realize Matthias 

wouldn’t have been 

any of those folks.


Maybe he would have been more

like a member of the Altar Guild,

sometimes not even accounting

for a line in the Sunday bulletin,

always there well before worship

quietly preparing all that needs to be done

to make it seamless and meaningful

for everyone there.


Or perhaps…

he would have been more like the sexton,

always making sure things were comfortable and safe

for everyone attending,

spending a lot of alone time

making things ready.


Was he the one

like the ones I see on Sunday

who are often in their pew

quietly praying

while I’m making sure 

the Gospel book

is marked to the correct page

and I’m not yet even

in my liturgical garb?


Who knows?

Maybe he was like

the person who faithfully

signs up time and time again

to do coffee hour,

even at the end of the month

when money can be tight,

digging through the fridge and the cupboards

to create something delicious

so everyone can feel nourished

and the post-worship conversation flourished.


Matthias reminds me

that the strength of the church

lies not with the headliners,

but with the folks

who will never have their name

beneath a stained glass window

or their picture on the wall.

It lies with the ones 

whose visage will survive a little longer 

in old photographs,

than the memory of their name and identity.


The ones who,

forty years later,

we look at the old photos and say,

“I remember them,

but I sure don’t remember their name.

I wish So-and-So

was still alive,

because she’d know who it was.”

Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO. 

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