I am thinking about two of the lesser-known saints, St. Simon and St. Jude (or Judas). What are they doing, being commemorated today on the same day?
The only thing they seem to have in common is they are the “other one.” St. Simon is the Simon who isn’t Simon Peter, St. Jude is the Judas who is not Iscariot. They are, it seems, known for who they are not.
There are these intriguing little snippets, though: Simon (not Peter) is Simon the Zealot, which means he was associated with those “peace and justice” Judeans who were all about organizing to end Roman oppression.
Simon (not Peter) is only mentioned in the Gospels. He is not in the inner circle of disciples. He doesn’t even get a few minor scenes, like the apostles Thomas and Philip. But he is “the zealot,” longing for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
St. Jude (not Iscariot) might have written the brief letter of Jude and might have been one of Jesus’ brothers. In the Gospel of John, Judas (not Iscariot) asks Jesus, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”
We can only imagine
In my imagination they are opposites, Simon and Jude — Simon with his fiery passion and Jude with his quiet love for prayer and for tradition.
I imagine St. Jude praying seven times a day while St. Simon is organizing some kind of a boycott. But that is my imagination only, because I don’t know much about either of them.
It seems that St. Jude and St. Simon are paired not because they are each the “other” one but because they might have been together as a missionary team.
Some say they went to Persia. They were witnesses to the gospel there and were martyred on the same day. That is the legend, anyway.
Later tradition gives St. Jude an intriguing designation: the patron saint of hopeless causes. But it seems to me that this is an apt description of all of us saints, a motley crew of zealots, mystics, scholars, servants and other ordinary people.
Every once in awhile a saint is spectacular. But most of us, like Simon and Jude, are the other ones. We are the runners-up, the also-rans, not called to do great things but to do small things with great love. We speak, we act, we bind up wounds, we feed people, but most of all we hope. We believe in the hopeless cause of the reign of Christ.
Like St. Simon (not Peter) and St. Jude (not Iscariot).
Find a link to Diane Roth’s blog Faith in Community at Lutheran Blogs.