Kitchen Catechism: Featured Articles

Apostles Simon & Jude

by Lois Donahue

I am presenting these two Apostles together because, after learning about them, it seemed the natural thing to do for several reasons. Here are some. . .

In the Bible, when all the Apostles are named, they are always listed side by side. More than one source indicates the belief that both men, at some time, belonged to the group of religious/nationalistic Jewish fanatics known as the “Zealots”.

Some speculate they were both among the “Seventy (two)” Jesus first sent out to evangelize (Lk 10:1) and that they could quite possibly have been sent out together. There is further speculation that, because of this early experience, they both were probably among the first Apostles sent far beyond the area of Jerusalem to ‘spread the good news’.

They were thought by some to be brothers (although most seem to believe they were just good friends).

There seems to be very few, if any, proven historical facts about either of these men before Jesus called them to be Apostles.

They both prayed with “Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” after the Ascension (Acts 1:13) and were no doubt among those who “were all in one place together” when the Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2:1).

While there were such similarities in the lives of these two men which caused them to be remembered as a kind of ‘packaged deal’, still their biographies would certainly not resemble carbon copies. For example ---

At least some difference in personality might be indicated by the fact that Jude did not hesitate to pose a question to Jesus (Jn 14:22) whereas I could not find one quoted word from Simon.

I did read something, which would certainly not appear on their comparison chart under ‘sameness’ and I hasten to let you know I found it among legends and traditions. According to this source, Jude apparently unlike Simon, was “married” and a “grandfather”.

Accounts of them in more modern Church history also differ. St. Jude became, and to this day devotionally remains, the popular Patron Saint of “Lost Causes” or, as some say, “hopeless cases”. On the other hand, although I did find that at one time the Church listed Simon as the Patron Saint of Curriers, I found no indication that there either was or is a widespread public devotion to him.

While, as missionary Apostles they both traveled extensively, I would like to cite two things which connect them to widely separated parts of that world. Jude was most notably associated with Armenia (the first country in the world to declare itself Christian) and the Armenian Church claims him as its founder. Simon, I was surprised to learn, supposedly went to Britain, and it is reported that, while there, he met St. Joseph of Arimathea. (Forgive me but I cannot resist the temptation to insert a bit of King Arthur legendary trivia which says the great Sir Galahad was the last descendant of that same Joseph - who had Jesus’ body buried in a tomb of his own…how about that.)

Now to the beginning of the end of the travels of Simon and Jude and, as we are told, to three of the strongest things that link them. Side by side they preached Christianity in Iran (often called Persia) in about the year A.D.66..a time, it is said, of “violent opposition” against anything foreign. The story goes that a frenzied crowd was turned against the two ‘elderly’ men because of what they were preaching and both of them were killed… Simon being sawed to pieces and Jude ‘run-through’ with a spear. (Both instruments of death sometimes symbolically shown with them in Christian art.) So it is that they preached together, died together as martyrs and now share the same Feast Day – October 28th.

There is just one more thing I’d like to mention before we bid farewell to Simon and Jude…between the two of them they sure had a puzzling variety of names. Matthew and Mark call Simon “the Cananean” which some interpret to mean he was from Cana but others (getting into translations far beyond what I want or need to understand) disagree and associate “Cananean” with “Zealot”, the word Luke actually uses to identify Simon. To complicate things further, some questions asked are – Did St. Luke use the word “Zealot” to distinguish this Apostle from “Simon Peter”? Was “Zealot” used because Simon once belonged to the group of Jewish extremists known as the Zealots? Was it used because of Simon’s ‘zeal’ for the Mosaic Law and the teaching of Christ? It seems no one is sure.

With Jude things get a bit more confusing because Mark calls him “Thaddeus”. Matthew does also unless you are reading another version of the Bible in which he calls him “Lebbaeus”… both names appearing to be the result of translation opinions. Luke lists him as “Judas, the son of James” and here there seems to be no certainty as to which James Luke was referring. John identifies Jude as “Judas, not Iscariot”. After being unable to find “Jude” in either my Bible, Concordance or Bible Dictionary, I finally discovered it was the English form of Judas and then understood why John made it a point to explain that the Apostle he was referring to was not the one who betrayed Jesus.

All this uncertainty about their names makes me think of the familiar quote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and prompts me to paraphrase Shakespeare and say ‘Simon and Jude, by whatever name were truly Apostles and are forever Saints’.

My only hope in sharing with you ‘who’ they have become to me is that you will personally come to know them as separate individuals who were as real as anyone you see in the ancestral photos in your family album.

I think, perhaps, the differences we find in them personally, in how they lived and how they served, their strengths and their weaknesses, the familiarity with which they were known by people of their time and of our day, by what was written and preserved about them through tradition and written history. Whether they were obvious ‘stars’ or seemingly no more than ‘walk-ons’ might very encouragingly remind us all that the role God asked each of them to play in His plan for our world, was both as individualized and, without partiality, as equally and eternally rewarded as is and will be, each of ours.

Editors note: Because there has always been the tendency to confuse St. Jude with Judas Iscariot - the apostle who betrayed Jesus - we are going to include, this month, what Lois has researched and written on Judas Iscariot. Also, the prayer of the month will be the very popular Novena to St. Jude for 'seemingly impossible' requests.

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"Nothing should
frighten or grieve you.
Let not your heart be troubled. Am I, your Mother,
not here with you?"

"Nothing should
frighten or grieve you.
Let not your heart be troubled. Am I, your Mother,
not here with you?"

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