Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles
Today the church remembers that, in the words of W. H. Auden,
Without arms or charm of culture,
Persons of no importance
From an unimportant Province,
They did as the Spirit bid,
Went forth into a joyless world
Of swords and rhetoric
To bring it joy.
Today the church remembers the apostles Simon and Jude. Scripture tells us little about these two figures, but the church has maintained a handful of robust traditions about them. From Scripture we know of Simon only that he was one of the disciples, called “the Zealot.” Whether this means he was a member of one of the various first century sectarian movements who bore the title “zealots,” or simply a person of great zeal for the gospel, we cannot be sure (though, I suspect the latter is more likely).
John tells us of Jude’s presence at the Last Supper. The Epistle of Jude, according to one school, may be the work of the disciple Jude, the brother of James the Greater. He is often attributed the surname Thaddeus to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot.
Homily for the Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude
“Whatever the facts, accounts conflict and reliable data are lacking.”[i] This one sentence summarizes the scholarly consensus regarding the lives of Saints Simon and Jude, whom we remember today. We know that Simon the Zealot is listed among the disciples and that Jude appears at the Last Supper. Western Church tradition has linked them as partners in both their ministry and their martyrdom, possibly in Persia. Every preacher on October 28 must face these few facts and ask God to make meaning and tell good news through them.
Deuteronomy 32:1 – 4
Psalm 119: 89 – 96
Ephesians 2: 13 – 22
John 15: 17 – 27
One of the challenges for the preacher is to be able to say something intelligent on a feast day when there is very little from which to draw. Today is one such day. We can turn to Scripture, but except for a few references in the gospels and Acts, we won’t find much on either Simon or Jude. So that leaves the Tradition. What does the Tradition say about these two? Again we can’t say much about them, and certainly not much with certainty. If I were to preach a sermon based simply on what we know about both Simon and Jude, the sermon would be over by now, which may not be a bad thing, but none the less I will press on and see what we can make of them.