October 28 – Sts. Simon and Jude

Cowardly Lion

Today we celebrate the Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles and martyrs for Christ. Simon was known as “the Zealot,” and Jude, or Judas the son of James, was nicknamed “Thaddeus,” which means “Courageous” in Greek. In the Gospel today the apostles are listed, with Simon and Jude coming towards the end, right before Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus.

When Jesus sent out His disciples with the power and authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the Gospel, He sent them out two-by-two.  One could infer (though this is by no means certain) that this Gospel passage lists the apostles according to those old missionary pairings: Simon Peter with his brother, Andrew; James with his brother, John; and so on, ending with the Judas called “Courageous” and the other Judas who became a traitor.

So here we would have two Judas’, side-by-side, in discipleship and ministry. Yet, only one of them earned a nickname for being courageous. To grow in holiness requires our courage, a virtue that Judas Iscariot tragically lacked.

John’s Gospel tells us that this Judas held the money purse, and sometimes stole from it for himself. That’s because he lacked the courage to acknowledge his faults and to grow in the virtues.

Judas may have betrayed Jesus because he thought this would kick-start Jesus, the weak messiah, into real, revolutionary action. Judas did not have the courage to trust that the providence of God working through Jesus Christ was really the best way to bring about the Kingdom on earth.

And after he had sinned, Judas lacked the courage to seek forgiveness, choosing suicide instead, which is called “the coward’s death.” Simon Peter denied Jesus, but he had the courage to confess his sin and to seek reconciliation. That was Peter’s salvation.

If we are going to grow in holiness to sainthood, it’s going to require our courage; the courage to acknowledge our faults and grow virtue, the courage to trust in God’s will and providential plan for our lives, and, when we fall, the courage to confess our sins and to seek reconciliation with Christ.

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