Simon and Jude were named among the twelve apostles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Simon is called ‘the Zealot’, probably because he belonged to a nationalist resistance movement opposing the Roman occupation forces. There is no indication in the gospels whether Simon moved from the Zealot party to be a follower of Christ or, on the other hand, if after the resurrection he became a supporter of that group, seeing it as a response to God’s call to proclaim the kingdom.
Luke describes Jude as the son of James, while the Letter of Jude has him as the brother of James, neither of which negates the other. It seems he is the same person as Thaddaeus, which may have been a last name. Owing to the similarity of his name to that of Judas Iscariot, Jude was rarely invoked in prayer and it seems likely that because of this, interceding through him was seen as a final resort when all else failed. He became known, therefore, as the patron saint of lost causes.
The two apostles are joined together on this day because a church, which had recently acquired their relics, was dedicated to their memory in Rome in the seventh century.
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
who built your Church upon the foundation
of the apostles and prophets,
with Jesus Christ himself as the chief corner-stone:
so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
O Lord, your word is everlasting;
it ever stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness also remains from one generation to another;
you have established the earth and it abides.
So also your judgements stand firm this day,
for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
I should have perished in my trouble.
I will never forget your commandments,
for by them you have given me life.
I am yours, O save me!
For I have sought your commandments.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me,
but I will meditate on your testimonies.
I have seen an end of all perfection,
but your commandment knows no bounds.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, “They hated me without a cause.”
‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.’
Today’s reading is dominated by the words ‘hate’ and ‘persecution’. Furthermore, all of this ‘hate’ and ‘persecution’ seems to be the fate that is likely to befall all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. Despite espousing a faith that is rooted in love, Jesus is telling us that, just as the world has hated and persecuted him, so we can expect no less. Put in these terms, it seems reasonable to ask why anyone might want to be a Christian?
The path of faithful discipleship is challenging. It is challenging because of the demands it makes on us as individuals, and on us within the context of the communities in which we live and work. As individuals we are called to set aside all that the world values and follow the path of humility and service. As individuals we are also called to be self-sacrificial and loving, even towards those who hate and persecute us. In the context of the communities in which we live, we are called to be ready to proclaim a gospel that is counter-cultural and that can be easily ridiculed when set alongside the power-games we see played out all around us.
However, despite all this negativity, many do recognize Jesus’ call to love and serve in his name. Many are ready to share in the hatred and persecution that was heaped upon Jesus for no better reason than his message challenged the accepted norms of the society in which he moved. Many are ready to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, even if that evokes the ridicule, hatred and persecution of those others.
So, where do we find the strength to follow such a challenging path through this life? The answer to that question lies in the coming of the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God in this world until the end of time. If we are true in our faith, we will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in order that we might withstand the harsh treatment that is so often rained down upon people of faith. The Holy Spirit will also inspire us as we seek to live out the other essential teaching of Jesus Christ: the teaching that we should love one another … even our persecutors.
Let us pray that we might never let our faith waver in the face of this world’s hatred and opposition. Let us pray that we may never forget all that our Lord endured on our behalf. Let us pray that we may always be conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit as we journey through the pilgrimage of our earthly lives.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God who has called us to be his witnesses in our time.
Empower the Church through the Holy Spirit to follow in the steps of the Apostles. Give to her ministers grace faithfully to preach the Gospel which they have received.
Have mercy upon a world where so many feel despair, and fear what is to come. Strengthen all who are trying to hold fast to the truth and to bring hope to those around them.
Make us channels of your peace to our families and friends, and those with whom we work. Be with those in our community who are in positions to offer help and guidance, and bless their work.
We pray for all who suffer persecution for their faith and are tempted to fall away. Give them hope in their troubles and relief from their suffering.
We remember those who have finished their course in this world and rest from their labours. May they offer their praise with blessed Simon and Jude and all the company of heaven.
Accept our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, the refuge of all who turn to him.
Prayer for the week
We thank you, Lord,
for calling us to be your witnesses:
grant us the courage and the love
to be obedient and faithful to that calling.
We pray that our lives may bear witness
to your love shown in Jesus Christ,
and that our witness may reflect your light
in the communities in which we live and work,
to the glory of your name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
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