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Listening with a Courageous Heart

October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013, Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time: Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Ephesians 2:19-22. Built upon the foundation of the Apostles.
Luke 6:12-16. He spent the night in prayer. He chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles.

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

Today we celebrate a feast of apostles, the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. The word apostle comes from the Greek word apóstólos, roughly meaning “I send from”, and translated into “messenger”. And it gives us the Latin word missio, where we get the word missionary. We hear that at the end of Mass, too – Ite, missa est (“Go, you are sent forth).

And so, the Apostles were sent, radiating out like so many rays from bright and true Son, gifted by the Holy Spirit. One such evangelizing team was Saint Simon the Zealot and Saint Jude Thaddeus. Today’s Gospel lists them, as does Acts Chapter 1, after receiving word before the Lord’s Ascension, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8b). And, in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Saint Cyril, bishop of Alexandria wrote, “These holy men became the pillar and mainstay of the truth.”

Not much is said in Scripture regarding Simon. His name in Hebrew, means “listening”, which is appropriate I guess, because of the absence of words. After all, God gave us two ears to hear, and only one mouth. Legends such as De Vita et Morte and Legenda Aurea have it that he met up with Jude in Persia, or Armenia, or Lebanon. He is the patron of tanners and curriers (leather workers).

Jude Thaddeus means “praised one” and “courageous heart”. And surely as the Lord was unveiling his plan for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Jude – not the Iscariot – asks the courageous question: “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” (John 14:22). The answer, we read in the Communion Antiphon: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23). A popular saint, Saint Jude is the patron of lost causes and desperate situations.

In life the two evangelized together throughout North Africa, Armenia, and the Middle East, and in martyrdom – Jude by the axe, and Simon sawn in half (something oddly Northwestern about that) – their bones rest together also, under the left-side transept in St. Peter’s Basilica, under the Altar of St Joseph. Jesus sent them forth as his messengers, as we are also to be sent.

Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians – and us – that in the generosity of God’s plan, they – we – are to be one in Christ, and, as the Apostles take their strength from the cornerstone to provide us a stable foundation, we are all to become “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22).

We are Church.

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