Homilette for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, apostles

(Ephesians2:19-22; Luke 6:12-16)

The title “Jude, the Obscure,” belongs to a novel written by Thomas Hardy, but it might describe one of the two apostles whom we celebrate today. Besides his appearance on the lists of apostles given by Luke, Jude’s (or, more accurately, not the traitorous Judas’) name is mentioned in the Gospel according to John as the apostle who asks Jesus why he well reveal himself to the apostles and not to the world (John 14:22). It is not likely that this apostle wrote the New Testament letter that bears the same name.

Simon’s story is a bit thicker than that of Jude although all that we know of him comes from the distinction the evangelists make between him and Simon Peter. Luke says that he is known as “a Zealot,” meaning that he is passionate about fulfilling the Jewish law. Nevertheless, we should not think of him as a member of the revolutionary band that is known as Zealots a generation after Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, the same Simon is designated “the Cananean” which actually stems from the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek word zelotes.

The first three evangelists are clear that Jesus intentionally chooses only twelve men to form his inner group of disciples. They also show that the men come from different backgrounds -- fishermen and a tax collector, for example. The fact that Simon is a zealot about the law and Matthew (or Levi) is of a profession that downplays the Law’s authority further indicates that Jesus intends that his followers bridge their differences for the project he is establishing. What we should find here is that Jesus’ presentation of the Kingdom of God is neither ersatz nor haphazard. He has a plan which encompasses fulfilling the prophetic hope of the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel. Inclusion of non-Jews into the Kingdom is not excluded by Jesus, but it begins only with the inauguration of the Church after Pentecost.