Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles

StsSimonJude3 Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone (Ephesians 2:19)

October 28th is the Feast Day for St. Simon & St. Jude, Apostles and I’ll give a little history on both Apostles.

Simon is called Simon Zelotes, Simon the Zealot, in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. He was one of the most obscure among the Apostles. Little is recorded of him aside from his name.

The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the synoptic gospels and Acts that give a list of apostles without further details about him.

Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas, the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16, RSV)
We also know little about St. Jude the Apostle. “Jude of James” is only mentioned twice in the New Testament: in the lists of apostles in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, “Jude of James” is ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James. Such a construction commonly denotes a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as “Jude, brother of James”.

The John 14:22 mentions a disciple called “Judas not Iscariot”. This is generally accepted to be the same person as the apostle Jude. In some Latin manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, Jude is called Judas the Zealot. St. Jude is also traditionally recognized as the author the General Epistle of Jude.

According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, Lebanon together with the Apostle Simon the Zealot, that is why their feast day is connected together.

St. Simon and St. Jude were Apostles and as such are part of the foundation on which the Church stands. Of those who belong to the Church, Paul says that we who have come to Christ are no more strangers and foreigners. Paul uses three analogies in the Epistle reading to describe this relationship.

First, Paul says that we are “fellow citizens with God’s people.” We have entered a new kingdom. We have changed our citizenship and now we are under another authority. We take for granted the rights of American citizenship so much that we have almost forgotten the fact that we are under authority. The government has certain powers over us. We are under authority. That is the first mark of citizenship.

The thing that makes us rejoice in our citizenship is that we have certain privileges. In the kingdom of God we have the protection of a King. There is power available there, the power to raise us from the dead. That kind of power works beyond human thinking and planning. God invites us to call upon Him for that kind of resource, whenever we need it.

Second, we are “members of God’s household.” This is an advance on the first point. We are members of God’s own family. This is the great truth that Paul is trying to bring home to our hearts, which is that we have access to a Father who is the King.

Third, Paul goes on to describe an even closer relationship: you are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Perhaps that seems something of an anticlimax. As an analogy, a building is rather cold and impersonal compared with the relationship of a family, but in the structure of a building, no separation of stones that make up the walls is possible. If the stones are separated, the building crumbles. This analogy hints at the closeness of the structures in the kingdom. It also speaks to the strength of the structure with Christ being the very stone that holds it all together.

Always remember the sacrifice of those who helped build Christ’s Church, men like St. Simon & St. Jude. Remember that you are under authority, belong to a family, and a building, a holy temple which is not of this world. Your citizenship is in Heaven with Jesus and His Saints, so do as Our Lord Commands. Love your neighbor, even though he may persecute you. Finally, pray that God will join you to His Holy Temple, through the unity of the Spirit.

 

Heroic Examples to Live By in Holy Scripture

The Martyrdom of Stephen by Peter Paul Rubens

The Martyrdom of Stephen by Peter Paul Rubens

Corruption, terror, and war are just another day’s headline. Christians living in a post-modern world may sometimes find it difficult to know how to respond to the world around us, a world that promotes vanity and deprecates life. How do we answer this world?

 
Christ is our great hope. In and through Him, we are redeemed. We, who follow Jesus as Lord, have nothing to fear from the world, and we look toward Jesus’ coming again. In the interim, we obey, pray, read His Word, love our neighbor, and worship Him.

 
We know this, yet it is helpful to have examples for Christian living. We need heroes we can mimic. Jesus is the greatest of these. We are to model our lives after Him, but we can also learn from the example of the heroic men and women of the Bible. We can do as they did in our world today.

 
I was contemplating this during Evening Prayer Wednesday night while reading the Second Lesson for Evening Prayer, Acts 7:35-53, and was awed by the example of St. Stephen. Stephen was the first Deacon and Christian Martyr. Scripture describes Stephen as a man filled with grace and power. He spoke with wisdom when debated. He was brought before the Sanhedrin and accused of blasphemy by false accusers.

 
In answering his accusers, Stephen recollected the history of God’s relation to the Jews; the Abrahamic Covenant, the life of Moses, the ten plagues and emancipation from slavery in Egypt, the rejection of Moses and turn to idol-worship by the Jews in the Wilderness, and the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Solomon. Stephen concluded his defense by reproving his accusers for betraying and murdering the prophets, chief of whom was Christ. He said;

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Stephen told his accusers that their ancestors rejected God’s Word for generations before Christ. God repeatedly sent prophets to correct their ways, but the prophets were rejected, persecuted, and murdered. Their betrayal of Christ was the ultimate disobedience to the Law.

St. Stephen was himself a prophet sent to God’s people and he bore the fate of other prophets. He was rejected and murdered.

Today we live in a world that continuously mocks Christ. Ultimately, God will judge the world. In the mean time, we are to answer the World as Stephen did. We must be a prophetic people, who live for Christ and who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), even to people who reject Christ. We must reprove those who do not live according to the Word of God, for, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16 KJV.)”

Before he died, Stephen uttered the words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (Acts 7:59 NAB.)” and, “Lord Jesus count not this sin against them (Acts 7:60 ESV).” He prayed for his persecutors, following the example of His Lord, who prayed for those who put Him to death, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34 KJV.)”

We must pray for those we love, yes, but we must also pray for those who reject Christ, that they may know Christ. We should pray for even those who persecute us, that they too may know Christ, and be forgiven.

May we be given the grace to live lives of truth speaking, truth doing, of prayer, and of forgiveness. May we follow our examples in the faith, St. Stephen, and our Lord Jesus Christ.