Today’s Holy Gospel reading : LK 6:12-16
Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Our Lord Jesus Christ spent all night in prayer to his Father as he knew he was about to undertake the vast task of choosing the Apostles who would be the ones to deliver his Holy Word to the world and this was obviously far from an easy task. Today, we come together to celebrate the Feast day of two of these Apostles that our Lord chose, namely that of St. Simon (called the Zealot) and of St. Judas (the son of James who we also call St. Jude). The disciples were guaranteed to fall out with each other because they were such different characters.
Although the Holy scriptures don’t really tell us about Simon and Jude, we should remember that it does say quite a lot about the disciples as a group, and that includes Simon and Jude. So we can say that Jesus chose them to be his disciples after a night in prayer and they responded readily, allowing their lives to be turned upside down; they lived with Jesus for three years; they saw the miracles; they heard his teaching; they had their moments of confusion and their moments of wonder; they fled when Jesus was arrested; they were present in the upper room when he revealed himself as risen from the dead; they saw him ascend into heaven; they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; they faced persecution from the religious authorities; they became leaders in the early church in Jerusalem.
Today’s gospel scripture had some difficult things to say about what the disciples were to face as a result of their love of Jesus: they would be hated and they would be persecuted for his sake. That was certainly true of Simon and John. Jesus describes them in the gospel as people who were to testify in the power of the Holy Spirit because were with him from the beginning of his public ministry.
Tradition tells us that both Simon and Jude ended up in Persia where they were martyred around AD 65, Simon (gruesomely) was sawn in two.
So what are we passionate about within our lives? Most of us want to be faithful to God day by day and who have things about which we are passionate. Our faith should be our one and main passion. In the midst of ordinary life, what is God calling us to do with our passions? Are we willing to follow Simon and Jude in forsaking everything for the sake of the gospel? That affects decisions about our whole lives: careers, money, time. Students and young people: what are we going to do with our lives? What gifts and passions has God given to each of us that we can use to proclaim the gospel? I’m a strong believer that God works with rather than against our gifts, so if we have skills and interests these should be used to serve God. But God opens up all sorts of unexpected doors, as he did for Simon and Jude who probably never dreamed of going beyond their local area. So we should ask ourselves how we can offer our gifts and passions to God in his service. For those of us who have made decisions that shape our lives, are we open to God asking us, even late in life, to do something new?
Following his death, St. Jude’s body was brought to Rome and left in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica. Today his bones can be found in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica under the main altar of St. Joseph in a tomb he shares with the remains of the apostle Simon the Zealot.
Pilgrims came to St. Jude’s grave to pray and many reported a powerful intercession, leading to the title, “The Saint for the Hopeless and the Despaired.” Two Saints, St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard, had visions from God asking them to accept St. Jude as “The Patron Saint of the Impossible.”