Ephesians 2:19-22;Psalm 19:2-5; Luke 6:12-16
Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles
You are fellow citizens with the holy ones. (Ephesians 2:19)
Have you ever admired a family member so deeply that you were willing to devote your life to their cause? Many people find it hard to rise above old family rivalries in this way, but this is exactly what St. Jude succeeded in doing. Scripture describes him as a “brother,” that is, a near relative of the Lord. Unlike other members of Jesus’ extended family who at one point thought he was mad, Jude humbly accepted Jesus first as his Rabbi and eventually as his Lord.
So little do we know about this apostle who is usually paired with Simon and whose name appears just before Judas that we aren’t even sure of his name. Some scholars believe that he is the “Thaddeus” named by Matthew and Mark.
After the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples on Pentecost, tradition says that Jude traveled to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), where he contended with sorcerers and magicians to preach the good news of the gospel, and was martyred by being clubbed to death. At some point and for unknown reasons, people began seeking his intercession in matters that seemed hopeless.
The disciple who shares Jude’s feast day is also largely a mystery. “Simon”—not Simon Peter—is described as both “Simon the Canaanite” and “Simon who was called the Zealot.” The Zealots provoked a failed revolt against Roman rule in a.d. 66–70. Were they also active thirty years earlier, during Jesus’ lifetime? Or did the word “Zealot” mean that Simon was on fire with zeal for the gospel? We don’t know. Tradition tells us that after preaching in Egypt, Simon joined Jude in Persia and was later martyred with him.
All Christians today trace our faith to those first disciples who left everything familiar to share the good news with strangers. Today’s feast reminds us to pray for modern-day apostles who leave home and family and risk their lives to bring the love of Jesus to those still waiting to hear about him.
“Lord Jesus, may those who leave home and family and risk all for the gospel be supported by your Spirit in the difficult task of bringing your good news to an often hostile world.”~WAU