Homilette for Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

(Luke 6:12-16)

The list of apostles that we read in the gospel passage today is one of four in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark and Luke each has a list as does the Acts of the Apostles which was also written by St. Luke. Each of the lists have three groups of four apostles starting with the most illustrious – St. Peter and ending with the most ignoble, Judas Iscariot. Mentioned with Peter in the first group are always James, John and Andrew. These apostles play prominent roles in the gospels. In the second foursome are lesser known, but not obscure apostles. They include Thomas, Philip, and Bartholomew. The last foursome contains the least known apostles except for Judas Iscariot, who was not so much famous as infamous.

St. Simon and St. Jude, whom we honor today, are among these least known apostles. In the lists of Matthew and Mark Jude does not even appear but is replaced by Thaddeus. Through the ages some people have thought that they must have been the same person with either two names or a first and last name – Jude Thaddeus. But it is more likely that Jude and Thaddeus were different men who were remembered by the different informers of Mark and Luke. (Matthew seems to have more or less copied Mark’s list). All this is to say that Jude does not figure prominently among the apostles. True, in the Gospel according to John, a disciple named Jude asks Jesus a question at the Last Supper, but that’s it! The apostle Jude’s name appears in the two lists recorded by Luke and as the one-time questioner in John.

Although he is virtually unknown in the gospels, St. Jude probably has the greatest following of all the apostles today. “Why?” we may wonder. The reason is not difficult to comprehend. Many people sense that they are of little significance and look to Jude the apostle, whose name is not given much significance, as their link to Jesus. It is he, the Lord, who gives us all the significance that is worth having – the grace of God or, in other words, eternal life.