Saint of the week

© The National Gallery. London

Saints Simon and Jude

28th October

“Today, let us examine two of the Twelve Apostles: Simon the Cananaean and Jude Thaddaeus . Let us look at them together, not only because they are always placed next to each other in the lists of the Twelve, but also because there is very little information about them, apart from the fact that the New Testament Canon preserves one Letter attributed to Jude Thaddaeus.
Simon is given a nickname that varies in the four lists: while Matthew and Mark describe him as a ‘Cananaean’, Luke instead describes him as a ‘Zealot’.
It is highly likely that even if this Simon was not exactly a member of the nationalist movement of Zealots, he was at least marked by passionate attachment to his Jewish identity, hence, for God, his People and divine Law.
If this was the case, Simon was worlds apart from Matthew, who, on the contrary, had an activity behind him as a tax collector that was frowned upon as entirely impure. This shows that Jesus called his disciples and collaborators, without exception, from the most varied social and religious backgrounds.
It was people who interested him, not social classes or labels! And the best thing is that in the group of his followers, despite their differences, they all lived side by side, overcoming imaginable difficulties: indeed, what bound them together was Jesus himself, in whom they all found themselves united with one another.
Let us also bear in mind that the group of the Twelve is the prefiguration of the Church, where there must be room for all charisms, peoples and races, all human qualities that find their composition and unity in communion with Jesus.
Then with regard to Jude Thaddaeus, this is what tradition has called him, combining two different names: in fact, whereas Matthew and Mark call him simply ‘Thaddaeus’, Luke calls him ‘Judas, the son of James’.
Very little about him has come down to us. John alone mentions a question he addressed to Jesus at the Last Supper: Thaddaeus says to the Lord: “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?”
The Letter of Jude ends with these most beautiful words: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.”
It is easy to see that the author of these lines lived to the full his own faith, to which realities as great as moral integrity and joy, trust and lastly praise belong, since it is all motivated solely by the goodness of our one God and the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, may both Simon the Cananaean and Jude Thaddeus help us to rediscover the beauty of the Christian faith ever anew and to live it without tiring, knowing how to bear a strong and at the same time peaceful witness to it.”
Pope Benedict XVI: General Audience. Saint Peter’s Square. Wednesday, 11 October 2006

The illustration is a panel showing Saint Simon and Jude from the polyptch altarpiece for the church of Santa Croce in Florence, painted by Ugolino di Nerio, (c1325).
This panel, along with others from the altarpiece is now housed in the National Gallery, London.

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