Today should be Ascension Thursday, but our bishops, wanting to let a greater number take part in the feast, have transferred the feast day Mass to next Sunday. We today will offer Mass in honor of St. Matthias, the one chosen to take the place of Judas as one of the twelve Apostles.
We know almost nothing about the subsequent career of St. Matthias. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to speak about a priest friend of mine who was named Matthias. As a boy, Matty was charming, both in appearance and in sociability. However, Matty was born with a hot temper. He tried very hard to keep it down ; but, poor boy, at times he couldn’t control it.
I first became aware of Matty’s temper when as kids we were playing against each other in soccer. Coming from behind, I took the ball from him, and headed with it down the field. As I was moving along with the ball, I heard heavy footsteps from behind. That had me passing off the ball; but even then, the footsteps kept coming. After they had chased me a good way off the field, I stopped, and turned, saying, “Matty!”
As though he were suddenly awakened, Matty’s anger fell away, and he said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
A dozen years later we were stationed together in Korea. Matty’s bursts of temper made him unfit for parish work, and he became our diocesan book keeper. Watching him fight to control himself, I felt very sorry for him.
He tried hard to change his make-up, but as they say, it was the cross he was doomed to carry through life. It killed him before he was to turn fifty. If you have been born with an even temper, thank God for it, and help those not so blessed.