Scripture for this Sunday (celebration of the Apostles Simon & Jude):
Isaiah 28.14-16; Psalm 119.89-96; Ephesians 2.19-22; John 15.17-27
There’s a ‘For Sale’ sign on the hotel Rocamar, in Mahón, which has been empty for years, and appears nowadays to be occupied solely by pigeons, rats and cockroaches. Every time that I see it, I think of Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and hopeless cases.
Praying to the saints is not something that everyone does these days, but it is embedded deeply in the Roman Catholic tradition. Jude became the saint of last resort because no one wanted to be thought to be praying to Judas Iscariot. Jude and Simon are celebrated together because in the collective memory of the early church their fates were intertwined: their ministry took them to Persia, where they were eventually martyred.
In their names, one a zealot, the other, relatively obscure, we might gain an insight into the diverse nature of those whom Jesus called to be disciples – definitely not a homogenous group! But together, their differences complemented one another, in the same way that the rough edges of the wide variety of rocks used in Menorca’s stone walls makes them stronger.
Jesus knew that his followers would need to be interdependent and gain strength in their diversity: he anticipated persecution and suffering. But he did offer hope: the advocate (paraclete in Greek), the Holy Spirit, would inspire and empower the church in its struggles, that were in fact not hopeless.
There are many examples of seemingly hopeless circumstances in our world that have underpinnings of hope. The human journey can sometimes be seen as a series of struggles, ending in death: not a very positive outlook.
Yet we sow seeds of faith in our journeys – in the values and incidents of caring that we leave along the way. And the prospect of reunification with God, through Christ, at the end of the journey offers special hope. The example of Jude and Simon includes the hardships that they endured; yet in the end, it is a story of mutual support and interdependence, of needing one another – and of reliance upon the Spirit, in a journey of faith.
Eva Le Gallienne was a British-born, American actress at the beginning of the twentieth century. She said this, which seems very appropriate for the subject of struggle and sainthood:
“People who are born even-tempered, placid, untroubled – secure from violent passions or temptations to evil – those who have never needed to struggle all night with the Angel to emerge lame but victorious at dawn, never become great saints.” (The reference is to Jacob’s struggle.)
Jude needed his Simon and Simon needed his Jude for the struggle of discipleship. And they both depended upon the Advocate, the Spirit. We also have been given the gift of the Spirit – and of one another. We not only need to make ourselves available to one another, we need to accept the gift that we can be to one another.