Festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
The Lord be with you
In the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (or “Cananaean”) and by Jude (or “Judas,” not Iscariot but “of James”), who was apparently known also as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. The shortening of his name from “Judas” to “Jude,” and the other names associated with him, was probably so people would not confuse him with Judas Iscariot. The King James Bible understood the “of James” to mean the brother of James. Modern translations understand it to mean the son of James. Simon is sometimes called “the less” to distinguish him from Simon Peter. According to Early Christian tradition, Simon and Jude journeyed together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. It is likely, at least in part, because these two apostles are always commemorated on the same day. Simon is not mentioned by name in the New Testament apart from the lists of the twelve apostles. (Of course any time the twelve are referred to as a group he is included.) Thus he is remembered and honored for the sake of his office, and thereby stands before us—in eternity, as in his life and ministry on earth–in the name and stead of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We give thanks to God for calling and sending Simon, along with Jude and all of the apostles, to preach and teach the Holy Gospel, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (John 4:1-2; Matthew 10; 28:16-20; Luke 24:46-49).
Jude appears in John’s Gospel (14:22) on the night of our Lord’s betrayal and the beginning of His Passion, asking Jesus how it is that He will manifest Himself to the disciples but not to the world. The answer that Jesus gives to this question is a pertinent emphasis for this festival day: “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 14:23). Jude, as mentioned above, traditionally is thought to have been the brother of James, the brother of the Lord and therefore the author of the epistle of Jude. Surely both Jude and Simon exemplified, in life and death, their love for Jesus and their faith in His Word. Not only are we thus strengthened in our Christian faith and life by their example, but, above all, we are encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord in keeping His promise to them to bring them home to Himself in heaven. There they live with Him forever, where we shall someday join them.
As Jesus responded to Jude’s question about how he would be manifest by speaking of Christian love, a quote about this love seems in order. The following is from Martin Luther’s lectures on Galatians, given in 1535. (“Lectures on Galatians,” Luther’s Works Vol 27)
Serving another person through love seems to reason to mean performing unimportant works such as the following: teaching the erring; comforting the afflicted; encouraging the weak; helping the neighbor in whatever way one can; bearing with his rude manners and impoliteness; putting up with annoyance, labors, and the ingratitude and contempt of men in both church and state; being patient in the home with a cranky wife [or husband for that matter] and an unmanageable family, and the like. But believe me, these works are so outstanding and brilliant that the whole world cannot comprehend their usefulness and worth; indeed, it cannot estimate the value of even one tiny good work, because it does not measure works or anything else on the basis of the Word of God but on the basis of a reason that is wicked, blind, and foolish.
Therefore men are completely mistaken when they imagine that they really understand the commandment to love. They have it written in their hearts, of course, because by nature they judge that one should do to others what one wants done to oneself (Matthew 7:12). But it does not follow that they understand this. For it they did, they would demonstrate it in their actions and would prefer love to all other works.
Prayer: Almighty God, You chose Your servants Simon and Jude to be numbered among the glorious company of the apostles. As they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so may we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Other appropriate Prayers:
• For the obscure and the forgotten and the unknown in the work of the church
• For the gift of holiness, which is the creation and gift of God
• For faithful continuation of the apostles’ preaching the Gospel to all the world
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert