by Joel V. Ocampo
As we celebrate the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles, on October 28, let’s get to know about them, based on the limited details available in the Scriptures.
In the list of the Twelve Apostles, Matthew (10:3-4) and Mark (3:18) recorded “Simon the Cananean” while St. Jude was listed in his other name “Thaddeus”. As for Luke, he mentioned “Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.” (Lk. 6:15-16; Acts 1:13).
The call of Simon and Jude were not mentioned in any part of the Four Gospels; but if we read the Gospel stories carefully, the twelve Apostles, including Simon and Jude “went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:12-13). Even in the Acts of the Apostles (5:12), we were told that “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles.” Jesus further said to the Apostles, “It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:28-30).
ST. SIMON THE ZEALOT
Zealots or Cananeans (Greek: Καναναῖος = Kananaios, meaning “the Zealot”) are members of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. Despite this negative impression to Zealots, the Lord Jesus saw not the activist side of Simon but his zeal for the Law of God.
The word “ZEAL” is referred to as an eagerness, passion, enthusiasm, or an ardent interest in pursuit of something. After Jesus cleanse the Temple, His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “ZEAL for your house will consume me” (cf. Jn 2:17). As Filipino, we have this line from our National Anthem, “Alab ng puso sa dibdib mo’y buhay” (Thy burning of the heart, is beating in you). Both the Lord Jesus and Simon the Zealot have that zeal or alab ng puso and love for the Law of God. This zeal made them both zealous in obeying the will of God. St. Paul further instructed, “Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion” (cf. Rm. 12:11).
According to Sacred Tradition, St. Simon the Zealot preached the Gospel in Egypt and then joined the apostle St. Jude Thaddaeus in Persia (now modern Iran), where he was martyred by being cut in half with a saw. Thus, his chief iconographic symbols are a saw and a book, symbolizing the Gospel that he preached.
ST. JUDE THADDAEUS
He is known as “The Apostle of Hope” or the “Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases.” He is the reputed author of the canonical Letter of Jude that warns against the licentious and blasphemous heretics. In the scene at the Rejection at Nazareth, we were told that St. Jude is a relative of Jesus (Mk. 6:3; Mt. 13:55). At the Last Supper, he asked Jesus, “Master, what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” (Jn. 14:22). The Lord replied, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him…” (Jn. 14:23).
In one of his homilies, Bishop Pablo David said, “Tradition tells us that all the other apostles became very famous from early Christian times, except St. Jude Thaddeus. Apparently, nobody wanted to invoke his name because of his notorious namesake: Judas Iscariot. They were probably worried that they might be praying to the wrong Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. So, it became a joke: you must be so desperate as to pray for the intercession of ‘Judas’. It was not until much later in Church history that he became known as a powerful intercessor; and when he did, his devotees had to make sure they avoided the Judas stigma by referring to him in his English nickname, ‘Jude’, or simply Thaddeus.”
If we analyze the Letter of Jude, we’ll get more ideas why he was named Apostle of Hope:
Keep yourselves in the love of God and
wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (verse 21).
On those who waver, have mercy (verse 22).
To “keep ourselves in the love of God” can also mean stay hopeful. We remain hopeful and hold on to the promise of the Lord, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Jos. 1:5).
Second, “wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” St. Paul tells us, “in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance” (Rm. 8:24-25).
Third, “on those who waver, have mercy.” St. Jude is like telling us, “There is still hope in that person. Have mercy on those who have doubt, hoping that one day, they will discover the Light.”
Bishop David added, “To be a Christian is to be like St. Jude; you carry the image of Christ with you until you become yourself a reflection of Christ. His face must be seen in you. How do we reflect the face of Christ? By loving your neighbour as yourself. Meaning: as your own. To see in every fellow human being your own brother, sister, parents, friends. To tell them: no, you’re not hopeless. Even when the whole world might reject you, there is one person who will never turn his back on you: Jesus.”
FROM HOPELESS TO HOPEFUL
Finally, if to God there is no such things as “hopeless case”, then maybe we can change the title of St. Jude from “Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases” into “Patron Saint of Hopeful Cases.” Let us remember, both St. Simon and St. Jude, along with the other Twelve ambitioned to become the greatest (Mk. 9:34); and many times, they misunderstood Jesus (cf. Mt. 15:16-20; 16:6-12; Jn. 12:16), but the Lord Jesus did not give up on them, believing that there is no such thing as a hopeless person.
Let us pray.
Saints Simon and Jude, pray for us.