The Biblical 12th Man

I got a familiar story for ya, Ags! Now it was January 2, 1922 and Texas A&M was playing against Centre College, the nation’s top ranked team at the time.  Coach Dana Bible was losing players left and right during this difficult game.  Down to no one left on the sidelines, Coach Bible looked around the stands and remembered E. King Gill, a former player and current basketball player, helping the reporters up in the press box.  The Aggies eventually won 22-14 and Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies.  He later said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not.  I simply stood by in case my team needed me.” (paraphrase of “Twelfth Man”)

This started the tradition of the Twelfth Man.  These days you’ll find that current Aggie students stand during the entire duration of the football game except when the other band plays.  We stand in case our team needs us and to show our support for the Fightin’ Texas Aggie team.
Well, yesterday (May 14) is the feast of St. Matthias.  Of course, on a saint’s feast day, the Church remembers and honors their life in Christ.  And I mention the Aggie 12th Man because in a way, St. Matthias was the Biblical 12th Man.
If you recall, Jesus died.  Then He was raised from the dead. Then He chilled with His disciples for a while.  Then He ascended into heaven.  Afterwards, the apostles gathered in the upper room to pray.  Peter reiterated to the group gathered that Judas’ betrayal was fulfillment of Scripture and he quoted from Psalms that Judas’ needed to be replaced by someone who had witnessed Jesus’ ministry.
Two candidates were named to replace Judas, and their names were Barsabbas and Matthias.  The apostles prayed asking the Lord who they should choose between the two.  Matthias was the one chosen, thus restoring the number of apostles back to twelve.  See Acts 1: 12-26.
His garb is arguably a faded maroon
While St. Matthias’ story doesn’t parallel that of E. King Gill’s, I think it is safe to say that both men were standing ready in anticipation to serve when called upon.  For St. Matthias, he definitely was since he shared in the mission of the apostles to make disciples of all nations.  And in both cases, we see a lasting legacy evident today in their respective realms.
But hey! If the Aggie 12th Man ever were to have a patron saint, it would definitely have to be St. Matthias!
A quick note on Catholic doctrine…St. Matthias is an example of apostolic succession at work.  After all, he was chosen by the originals.
Again, the Church celebrates his feast day on May 14.  St. Matthias, pray for us!
– JD
E. King Gill picture /
St. Matthias picture / Wikipedia