Daily Reflection
October 28th, 1999
Dennis Hamm, S.J.
Theology Department
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The Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude
Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 19:2-5
Luke 6:12-16 

"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone" (Eph. 2:19-20).

According to Luke's list of the core group of twelve that Jesus chose after a night of prayer, half of them shared a name with someone else in the group.  There were two Simons, two Jameses, and two Judases.  Today is the feast day of two of the least known of the name sharers--Simon, not Simon Peter but the one called the Zealot; and Judas, not Judas who betrayed Jesus but the other one, called son of James (apparently some third James, not one of the two Jameses on the list).

To flesh out today's Simon (the Less), some pick up on the epithet "the zealot" and take that to mean he was a member of the party of Jews planning, and eventually executing, a guerrilla war against the Romans.  But historians tell us that the Zealot party didn't really emerge as a distinctive group until some 36 years after Jesus' crucifixion.  So maybe Simon was nicknamed "the zealot" simply because he was a zealous guy, a Jew conspicuously zealous for doing the Lord's will.  (If he really was an early member of an infant Zealot Party, he was rescued from a doomed enterprise; the Zealots' attempted revolution against Rome resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the occupation of Palestine in A.D. 70.)

As for Judas son of James, he nearly gets lost in the tradition because Mark and Matthew call him Thaddeus, and English translators, probably to spare him the embarrassment of being confused with the other Judas, have typically shortened his name (where it appears in Luke's lists) to Jude.  He has emerged in Christian tradition as the saint of the impossible.

Where these nominal ponderings take me is to the realization that sometimes I have moments of zeal and wonder where to direct it; and at other times I begin to think that as a Christian, I am involved in "mission impossible."  And the reading from Ephesians reminds me that my moments of zeal and my moments of thinking that the Christian task is impossible are blessedly overshadowed by the realization that the Church is a huge household operation, founded on the apostles, held together by the risen Christ Jesus and energized by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, despite my little unfocussed spurts of zeal and my moments of discouragement before apparent impossibilities, my little role in this vast scenario takes on meaning from just being a part in a divinely established and God-blessed household.  Pray for us, Saint Simon and Saint Jude (Thaddeus?)--nearly forgotten members of the founding Twelve.  What the Lord did with you he can do with us.

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