28 Oct. Ss Simon and Jude, Apostles (Feast)

1st Reading: Ephesians 2:19-22

God has appointed apostles so that his people’s needs will be served

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Gospel: Luke 6:12-19

Before selecting his twelve apostles, Jesus prays all night on the mountain

At that time Jesus went out to the mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.


Simon and Jude

In the various New Testament lists of the Twelve, the tenth and eleventh apostles are named as Simon the Zealot (or Simon the Canaanean) and Judas son of James, also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. (Judas corresponds to the Hebrew name Judah.) An early Christian tradition told of Simon and Jude going together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. If this is true, it would explain why they are listed together. Nowhere else is Simon mentioned except on these lists. Some modern writers have used “Zealot” as the basis for conjectures linking him, and through him Jesus and his whole group, with the Zealots who were devoted to violent insurrection. But according to Josephus (Jewish War 4,3,9) that movement did not arise until shortly before the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 AD.

Judas (often called Jude in English) is not surprisingly given various names since there would be a need to distinguish him among the apostles from the group treasurer, Judas Iscariot, and after the crucifixion there would be an additional reason to stress this distinction. At the Last Supper it was Jude who asked Jesus why he chose to reveal himself only to the disciples. The answer was: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:22f) The Epistle of Jude was written by Judas the brother of James, which could refer to either Jude. In any case, we commemorate on this day (1) Simon the Zealot, one of the original Twelve; (2) Judas Thaddaeus (or Lebbaeus), also one of the original Twelve; and (3) Jude (or Judas) the brother of James and author of the Epistle, without settling the question of whether (2) and (3) are the same person.

In popular usage, Saint Jude is often prayed to as the patron of lost causes, the “saint of last resort,” the one you ask for help when all else fails.Maybe this is because his name reminds hearers of Judas Iscariot, so that people were inclined to try one of the other apostles first, making Jude “the saint of last resort,” the one whom you ask only when nothing else seems to help!

Choosing his team of twelve

It is only Luke who tells us that, before he chose the twelve, Jesus spent the night in prayer to God. This was a decision he prayed about; his choice of the twelve came out of his prayer. Indeed, Luke emphasizes that Jesus prayed before all the key moments of his life — just after his baptism, just before he set his face to go to Jerusalem, in the Garden of Gethsemane as he faced into his passion and death; on the cross just before his death.

We too will often find ourselves praying at important moments in our own lives. At such times we recognize our need guidance and strength from above. Our prayers do not necessarily mean that everything will work out perfectly for us. Although Jesus spent the night in prayer before he chose twelve from among the disciples, one of those twelve, Judas, went on to betray him. Yet, we can be sure that our prayerful surrender to the Lord will always create space for him to work, even when things do not work out as we planned.

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