Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – October 28, 2021
Reflection for the 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 10-28-21, Year B
Readings: Eph 2:19-22, Psalm 19:2-5, Gospel Lk 6:12-16
Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
Holiness is not something we learn on our own or give to ourselves. Holiness is a gift from God. We can only hope to be holy if we recognize God’s gift and allow that gift to transform us in every aspect of our lives. For many of us, this happens over time. For a few, it is sudden and immediate, being transformed in a moment, “re-born” in the spirit given to us in our baptism.
To be able to recognize the gift of holiness given to us, we must first recognize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For many of us, we see this path of recognition coming through the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus. God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Himself to become one of us, so that we could recognize this gift of holiness and the path to achieve it. If it were not for Jesus coming among us, most of us would not be able to comprehend the vast depth of God’s will for us and what holiness really means. Jesus put the will of God to us in such a way so that we could understand and see the path to holiness.
There is not much known about St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude (“Thaddeus” in Mark, Matthew). What we do know is that they both lived relatively obscure lives for the most part, oblivious to the real meaning of God’s will and the holiness he eventually called them to.
Simon was a Zealot, a form of extreme religious believers with very little latitude for anything outside their religious boundaries. They were what we would call modern day “extremists.” Many of the Jewish Zealots were the counterparts of modern terrorists, largely responsible for rebellion against Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
St. Jude was the brother of St. James the lesser. After Jesus chose him as one of the twelve and after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, St. Jude went on to preach in Palestine (Syria) where he met up with St. Simon. Many believe that St. Jude wrote the last epistle letter in the New Testament, but that is refuted among theologians. Today, it is believed that St. Jude did not write the letter. Even so, in that letter Jude refers to “the one who is able to keep you from stumbling….” (Jude 1:24), which is believed to be one of the primary reasons, along with a revelation to St. Bridget to encourage devotion to St. Jude for help, he became the patron saint of desperate situations or lost causes.
Both Simon and Jude were relatives of Jesus as cousins, and thus were called brothers of Jesus as was customary for relatives and close friends in that time. They were both martyred for the faith in the first century, most likely in the region of Palestine.
We are all children of God, heirs to the Kingdom and adopted children. Through baptism we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus the gift of Holiness. But, like any gift we receive, if we don’t open the box, and just set it aside, we will never know joy the gift could have brought us. As St. Paul writes, “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.”
Pray to the Holy Spirit to help guide you to holiness, the same holiness that St. Simon and St. Jude came to know. When you do, may the warmth and love of God himself wash over you and give you peace in all you do, for nothing can come between you and God when you accept His gift of holiness!