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St. Simon and St. Jude led ordinary lives and were chosen by Jesus to “follow him” and to teach others about God’s love. Ordinary people who were asked to go out into the world and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Their lives help us understand the depth of discipleship when we decide to follow Jesus.
St. Simon was often called “the Zealot.” In Matthew and Mark, Simon is referred to as the Cananean. Luke calls him the Zealot, perhaps due to his zeal in upholding the Law, or maybe he was a member of the radical Jewish sect so named. This designation helped to distinguish him from fellow Apostle, Simon Peter. In Simon’s case, he firmly believed in the importance of people following Jewish law.
Once St. Simon met Jesus, his life changed and was convinced that the most important thing was to follow Jesus. After Pentecost, he was sent out made disciples throughout the regions. He preached in Egypt and then to have joined St. Jude in Persia. He was martyred by being cut in half with a saw.
St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Lesser, and a relative of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, Jude asks Jesus why he does not manifest himself to the whole world. Jesus replies: “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. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”
St. Jude is an author of an Epistle to the Churches of the East, in particular, the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62 and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem. He was martyred by being beaten to death with a club and beheaded. He is frequently depicted holding the face of Christ and a club, the means of his martyrdom. In some depictions, a flame extends from his forehead, symbolizing the power and action of the Holy Spirit. St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate situations.
Simon and Jude traveled together to teach others about Jesus. Because of their eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ miracles and his death and Resurrection, many people became believers and were baptized. They share a common feast day because they ministered in Persia and, there, received the crown of martyrdom on the same day in 65 AD. St. Jude’s body was later returned to Rome, where it was buried in a crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica.
Let us pray throughout the day to possess the knowledge of Christ so deep and powerful that each moment we proclaim His praise.