Sheetrock ~ The Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, two Apostles about whom we know almost nothing. They are mentioned in all four Gospels, but only Jude is credited with more than being listed: he asks, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Simon is identified as a Zealot, probably not the ones who caused the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and the temple, but still an ardent foe of the Romans and the oppressors of the Jews. Jude is known as the son (or brother) of James. We are not positive which James he is related to, however. And neither are we sure if he is the author of the Epistle of Jude. Most Catholics believe that the two are the same. Most Protestants do not.

Legend has it that they both went to Persia to preach where they were both martyred, Simon by being sawn in half and Judas by being felled with a club.

Then of course there are other stories and legends about them. But does that matter?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What does matter on this feast day is the Responsorial Psalm from today’s Mass:

  1. (5a) Their message goes out through all the earth.
    The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
    Day pours out the word to day,
    and night to night imparts knowledge.
    R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
    Not a word nor a discourse
    whose voice is not heard;
    Through all the earth their voice resounds,
    and to the ends of the world, their message.
    R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Two apostles of the Twelve are celebrated today by recognizing their works, their mission, and their triumph – they listened to the Lord, heard his Word, and now pass that word on to everyone they meet…to the ends of the world, which could be Persia…or Syria, or Lebanon.

Most commentaries spend a lot of print on their names and who they really are. Nothing is said of their works, their ideas, or their results. And that is the case with most of us in this world. Most of us will never have an entry in Wikipedia. Nor will our names be found in the Depths of the Library of Congress. And if we really think about Jesus’ message, isn’t that not surprising?

As Paul says in today’s Reading, we are members of the household of God. In Jesus we are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. So whether we are the Front Door of the dwelling, or simply a piece of sheetrock in the hallway, if we are gone, there is an emptiness in the house, a missing piece.

But who knows if we are missing?

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Therefore, God would know if we are missing. And who matters more?

The other day I was thinking almost exactly these thoughts. At my advanced age, I have begun to dwell too much in the past. Not good, I know. But I said to my wife that I wasn’t really sure that I had lived up to my potential, etc. etc. Yes, a little whining from this corner. We had a fruitful and fulfilling conversation that took me off the pity pot and set me straight. The upshot was that today’s Mass was directed, once again, directly at me.

Yes, I’m not in Wikipedia nor the Library of Congress. But I am in the hearts of our children and grandchildren and the many close and beautiful friends I have all over the world. I’m sure that if this piece of sheetrock called Me were to go, quite a few people would miss me.

And that’s what today’s Psalm tells me, and all of us. We’re part of the continuum of God’s word. We heard the message, we consumed it, and we passed it along in our turn, after which it will be passed again, and again.

All of us are in the chain that Simon and Jude passed on. Jesus’ message continues to go out through all the earth. And today’s Gospel concludes with naming the Apostles, so somewhere, down the line, we can see our names. Now it’s up to us to keep the house a-building…pass it on!

Lord, we have heard your good news. Give us the courage, strength, and wisdom to help spread your message through all the earth.

Amen.

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