Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate with great joy the feast of not just one, but two of the Lord’s very own Twelve Apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude. St. Simon the Apostle was once known as Simon the Zealot, likely from his former work and contributions to the Zealots, a community of people who led an active and passive resistance against the Romans. Meanwhile, St. Jude Thaddeus was a disciple often confused with Judas Iscariot, the traitor, and yet, he had done many wonderful deeds for the Lord and for His people.
In the Scripture readings today, we heard how God called His Apostles from among the people, chose them and charged them to assist Him in His works and missions to help the people of God, to whom Christ had laboured for in His earthly ministry in order to bring them towards salvation. He sent them to help Him in spreading the good works He has intended for His people, and to call them to repentance and to change their ways that they may be saved.
But it was not an easy task, and Jesus our Lord Himself reminded His disciples and Apostles in particular, that challenges facing them would be plenty. They would be tempted to abandon their efforts, just as what the Passion of our Lord showed us. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, who was none other than one among His Twelve Apostles, tempted by money, all the other Apostles and disciples abandoned Him and went into hiding, fearing repercussions from the enemies of their Lord.
And when the Pharisees, the elders and the chief priests commenced persecution of all the faithful, spearheaded by Saul, the future St. Paul the Apostle, some among the faithful faltered in their faith and devotion to the Lord, and faced with the choice between suffering and staying faithful to their God, or to enjoy reprieve and safety in the world and abandoning their God, there were those who chose to do the latter.
These are the challenges facing us Christians, not only just during that time, when the Church was still growing and blooming in its early days, but also throughout the history of Christendom right up to now, to this very day, and also in the foreseeable future that we have and which we will experience. It is the challenge for us to remain faithful to the Lord despite the persecutions and challenges, ridicule and rejection that the world has inflicted upon us.
Are we up to the task? And do we indeed realise that as our Lord’s disciples and followers in this modern era and times, there are still a lot of things left to be done in this world? We are the successors of the works of the Apostles and the Church fathers, who had established the Church on the firm foundation of their faith and courageous devotion. We have to follow in their footsteps and be faithful in all of our ways.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was told that St. Simon and St. Jude Thaddeus went to many different places, serving the people in various locations and relating to them the revelation of truth which came from God. Through their works and assistance, many had come to believe in God, and many more have repented from their sins and received the salvation from God.
They were not always welcomed, and there were those who were opposed to their works, both among their own people and among the pagan nations. But they never gave up, and through their persistence, the foundations of the Church in many places had been made strong and firm. They have led by example in their faith, encouraging many to remain strong in the faith.
And eventually, even though they met their ends in the faraway lands, St. Simon in Armenia or Persia, where he might have been crucified or sawn in half, and St. Jude Thaddeus in Syria, where it was told that he was beheaded with an axe, and some accounts had his martyrdom together with St. Simon, which was why their feast days are celebrated together.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we then follow the examples of these holy and venerable saints? Shall we follow in their footsteps as well? There are many things that we can learn from them, and perhaps we really should do so. We are called to continue the good works of the Apostles, and be courageous in spreading the message of the Good News of the Gospel, not worrying and fearing challenges that will come our way.
May the Lord help us in our endeavours and good works in serving Him, and may He ever bless us all always with abundant blessings, and bring us all ever closer to His everlasting love and mercy. Amen.