Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together with the entire Universal Church, the feast of two of our Lord’s great and holy Apostles, two of the Twelve, appointed and chosen by Jesus Himself from among us, to be His chief lieutenants and servants to help in the ministry and works of salvation through Jesus. They became what St. Paul said in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Ephesus, as the foundations of the Faith and the Church which we have today, together with the prophets of God of old.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, two of the Apostles, who was also known as Simon the Zealot, belonging to the group of the Zealots, a very puritanical and extremist group opposed to the Roman rule in Judea at the time of Jesus, a sort of freedom fighter, who was turned from his former path with the Zealots, and instead joined Jesus and became His follower. The other Apostle is also known as St. Judas Thaddeus, or St. Jude, different from Judas Iscariot the traitor. This saint today was especially known in the devotion to St. Jude, as the patron saint of hopeless cases.
St. Simon was as mentioned, a Zealot, a fighter for the freedom for the Jews from the Roman rule, to achieve a physical liberation from the tyranny and oppression of the Romans against the Jews. However, he left all that, when he followed Jesus, to be one of His chief disciples, the Apostles, and instead of fighting for the liberation of the body only and the Jews only, he became the agent of salvation for all mankind, and also for the salvation of both body and soul from sin and death
Meanwhile, St. Jude or St. Jude Thaddeus was also another Apostle of Jesus, often confused with Judas Iscariot the traitor of Jesus. However, while that Judas was unfaithful and got what he deserved, St. Jude or Judas Thaddeus remained faithful to the Lord, and he continued to preach the Good News together with St. Simon the Zealot, whom he was often closely associated to, and that is why we celebrate their feast days together.
Both St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude Thaddeus travelled together, preaching and spreading the faith in the region of Judea, Syria, and to Egypt and Libya, as well as to many other regions where they preached the Good News of Jesus Christ, the hope of salvation for all the people living in those places who have yet to witness the light of Christ. And through their hard work and ministry, they planted the seeds of the Faith and the Church, which would eventually grow and bring many souls to salvation in God.
Both of them went through many trials and difficulties, acceptance and rejection, by the people and the communities to whom they were sent to. Yet they persevered on, and like St. Paul the Apostle, they never gave up in the face of difficulties, and through their good and hard work, they gained many souls to the mercy of God, and brought them towards salvation. Indeed, these two, among the other ten Apostles, were the crucial and important pillars of the Faith and salvation.
It was told that they were martyred in the region of Syria during a persecution of the Faithful, and they were beheaded with an axe, a symbol often associated to them. But even in death, they continued to bring goodness and good works and wonders to the faithful, as in death they lay down the seeds of faith to the newly faithful, spreading the Good News ever further and greater to the ends of the earth.
And we know that St. Jude was particularly famous because he is the patron saint of the cases of hopelessness and where hope is dim. People ask for his intercession to help in those cases that seem to be impossible and outcome is likely to be unfavourable. However, brethren, we have to be careful lest we think that they are like gods or those who can fulfill our wishes and needs at our whim.
These Apostles, St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Simon the Zealot, as well as the other Apostles are the twelve central pillars of the faith, and besides the Lord’s own Blessed Mother Mary, they stand the closest to the throne of God, their Lord and Master. They were men once, but they have been tested through fire and trials, facing all the difficulties and the challenges of the world, suffering even martyrdom for the sake of the Lord.
They therefore are our role models, the reflection of what we can also achieve if we are to follow in their paths and walk in their footsteps. They represent the fulfillment of God’s promise. Remember what did Jesus say to them at one time, how they will sit upon twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel? This is the same promise which God has also given us. We will all sit among the righteous and the just, but only if we remain faithful to the Lord, resisting all temptations of life and the flesh.
The disciples and the Apostles were once also diverse in their occupations, and they were men of the world, and yet they chose to follow God and become His chief servants, to be the ones to help Him to accomplish much good work in this world. They did have the choice to follow the Lord or to follow their own hearts’ desire. Remember what happened to Judas Iscariot the traitor? He cheated the group’s money and possessions, corrupting them for his own benefits, and in the end, even sold his own Lord and Master for a mere thirty pieces of silver. And where did he end up? Not among the Apostles nor the saints, but among the condemned.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reflect on our own lives and actions. We are all sinners and unworthy of the Lord’s love and mercy. And yet, He offered them to us freely and tenderly nonetheless, giving them through the ultimate act of love, His suffering and death on the cross. We have the choice to continue in our ways of sin, following the wicked paths of the world, or to embrace the mercy and love offered by God.
The Apostles, and especially the ones we celebrate today, St. Simon and St. Jude are our models in life. They themselves were not perfect, and they were sinners, and yet they were willing to allow the Lord to come into their lives and transform themselves, that they would no longer live in sin but became the tools of the Lord in bringing good into this world, and in that, they were justified themselves in their faith.
Let us therefore use this opportunity to begin to follow our Lord Jesus and emulate the examples of His holy Apostles, St. Jude and St. Simon whose feasts we celebrate today. Let us all also become faithful disciples of our Lord, building ever stronger support and foundation for the salvific mission of our Church, the Church of God, for our salvation and for the salvation of all souls. Leave our old lives of sin and darkness and exchange it for the lives in the light of God. God bless us all. Amen.