The Feast of Saints Simon and Jude is upon us today. Very little historical information is known about these two. Simon is sometimes referred to as a member of the Zealot party, a group that struggled against the Roman occupation of Israel. Jude is sometimes called Thaddeus or Judas. New Testament translations abbreviated his name to Jude in order to avoid confusion with Judas Iscariot, the traitor. The names of the Twelve highlight the fact that there were far fewer names used in the first century. The Twelve includes two named Simon, two named Judas, and two named James. Both Simon and Jude are referred to as “brothers” of Jesus, but this probably means that they were cousins and grew up in the same household with Joseph’s brothers and their children, the common way for the Jews of that time to live. (6:3)
The various legends that surround the efforts of these two apostles associate the two as fellow evangelizers in the Middle East. Accounts of their martyrdoms vary from the story that says that St. Jude was beaten to death with a club to the one that says that St. Simon was sawn in half in Persia. There are also accounts that relate that they were crucified.
Today, St. Jude is known as the patron of the desperate. This probably stems from the fact that when Christians asked the intercession of the apostles in their prayers, they usually would pray to St. Jude as a last resort lest they be accused of asking the intercession of the infamous traitor with the same name.
As fascinating as the accounts of their lives may be, the main reason they are celebrated is the fact that they were responsible with their fellow apostles for spreading the Gospel message after Jesus returned to the Father. They stand as examples of what can be done through the efforts of a few through determination, perseverance, and faithfulness.
As we keep this feastday, let us cling to the Gospel they proclaimed. At the same time, let us pray that God will continue to be a source of relief for the many people who find themselves trapped in desperate situations.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator