The Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
(Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-16)
Today’s feast celebrates, using St. Paul’s phrase, “the last of the apostles.” At least, they are mentioned last on the lists of apostles in the gospels except for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer. Simon and Jude are taken together today, perhaps because so little is known about either historically.
Scholars debate the meaning of “zealot” by which Luke’s gospel identifies Simon. In Matthew and Mark, Simon is called the Cananean, but that is just a transcription of the Hebrew word for “zealot.” “Zealot” may describe someone “jealous of the law.” It could be said that “zealous” means “fanatical” today. Or it could mean “revolutionary,” which is to say a fanatic who is willing to perpetuate violence for his/her cause.
Interestingly, Matthew and Mark give “Thaddeus” as an alternative for “Jude” in Luke. The tradition has kept both names calling the eleventh apostle (in Luke) “Jude Thaddeus.” His name was really “Judas,” but English and French translations usually disassociate him from the betrayer. Jude is a forgotten saint. As he has been recognized as the patron of hopeless causes, many turn to him for intercession.
The gospel is built upon reversals. Mary proclaimed how the lowly will be raised and Jesus was raised from the dead after being crucified. He also said that the first will be last and the last, first. Therefore, we need not hesitate to seek the assistance of these two apostles. They stayed close to Christ on earth and cannot be far from him in eternal life.