Sts. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
St. Simon, whose festival the Catholic Church commemorates to-day, was surnamed the Cananaean or Canaanite, because he was born at Cana, a town in Galilee. In this town, Jesus wrought his first miracle, by changing water into wine, as is known from the Gospel. Nicephorus and some others are of opinion, that Simon was the bridegroom whose wedding our Lord and His holy Mother honored with their presence, but that he afterwards left his bride with her consent and followed Christ. St. Jude, the brother of Simon, is called Thaddseus to distinguish him from the other Jude or Judas’ who betrayed and sold the Lord. According to Nicephorus, Mary Cleophas was their mother, and James the Less their brother. Other writers say that Simon and Jude were not brothers. The Gospel tells us that both Simon and Jude were chosen by Christ as Apostles; but when or under what circumstances this took place, is not recorded, nor have any particulars of their words and actions been left us. There is, however, not the slightest doubt that they, as all the others, constantly followed the Saviour, and although they forsook Him when He was taken prisoner, they had, after His resurrection the grace to see Him frequently, to be present at His Ascension, and to receive the Holy Ghost on Pentecost.
When, later, the Apostles separated to preach the Gospel, St. Simon went to Egypt and St. Jude to Mesopotamia. Both however, were also in other lands, to preach the word of Christ, and after thus spending 30 years in apostolic labors, they met again, by divine dispensation, in Persia. On their arrival in this land, they found the Persian army in the field; for the King had declared war against India, and was in the act of marching against it. Baradach, the general in chief, had offered many sacrifices to the gods, desiring to know the issue of the war; but no answer was given, which had always been given before, as the Evil spirits spoke through the idols. Hence Baradach, amazed at such unusual silence, sent to another idol which was kept in a place far from the camp, and desired to know the reason of it. Satan, answering through it, said, that the presence of two Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ was the cause of the silence of the gods, as the power of these two Apostles was so great, that not one of the gods, until now so greatly honored, dared to appear before them.
Baradach, having received this answer, had the two Apostles brought before him. He met them with great manifestations of respect and listened to them while they spoke to him of the nothingness of the gods which he worshipped. As he was desirous to know the issue of the war, they made use of the occasion to show him how false were the words of the idols and hence how groundless was the notion of their divinity. They bade him propose his questions to the idols, through the magicians as usual, and told him that they would give his gods permission to speak. The magicians were ordered to ask the gods, and returned with the answer, that the result would be a long, bloody, and disastrous war. The Apostles having heard this, said to Baradach: “Now, great prince, recognize the falsity and the deceit as well of your magicians as of your gods. A deputation of the Indians will arrive to-morrow, at this hour, in your camp, to request peace of you on whatever conditions you may choose to prescribe.” Baradach, surprised at these words, awaited with great impatience the following day. At the very hour the Apostles had foretold, the Indian embassy came humbly begging for peace, which was forthwith concluded.
This event was reported to the king, who resided at Babylon. He called the Apostles into his presence, listened with great attention to their words, and after having been sufficiently instructed in Christianity, was baptized by his holy teachers. The example of the king was followed by the whole court and a great part of the city. After this, the holy men went through the other towns and villages of the kingdom, everywhere preaching the mysteries and truths of the Christian faith. Many thousands became converts, only the magicians and fortune-tellers remained in their blindness, and seeing, with deep resentment, that they were everywhere despised and derided, they sought means to kill the holy Apostles. To this end, they excited the inhabitants of a town, which was far distant from the residence of the king, against the Saints, who had no sooner arrived there than thay were seized and dragged, the one before an idol of the sun, the other before that of the moon, and were commanded to offer incense. The holy men refused to comply with so wicked a demand, saying that they sacrificed only to the true God; after which they began to preach the Gospel. But the furious Pagans refused to listen to them, and in their rage, cut St. Simon asunder with a saw, and beheaded St. Jude. In this manner these two holy Apostles ended their lives and earned the glorious crown of martyrdom.
I cannot pass over in silence an event which took place while St. Simon and St. Jude preached the Gospel. The daughter of a noble Persian became the mother of a child, and said that a deacon of the Apostles was its father. The truth of this was not doubted, and the deacon was brought before the king. The holy Apostles, knowing that he was innocent, went to the king, and desired that the parents of the slanderer and the child should be summoned. When they appeared, one of the Saints asked the infant, in the presence of the king and the parents, whether the deacon was its father. The child answered loudly and distinctly: “No! the deacon is innocent.” The king and all present thanked and praised the Almighty who had so miraculously saved His servant. The parents, begging pardon of the latter, as well as of the Apostles, requested that the child should be asked who was its father, but the Apostles said. ” We come not to accuse the guilty, but to protect the innocent:” This great miracle was not only instrumental in increasing the esteem in which the holy Apostles were held, but was also the means of converting many heathens, and strengthening the faith of those who had already embraced Christianity.
It has further to be remarked that we have, in Holy Writ from the pen of St. Jude, a short but powerful Epistle, in which he admonishes the faithful to guard themselves against those who, having forsaken the true Church, preach heresy; to remain constant in their faith, and to practise diligently all virtues, especially charity, chastity and purity. Luther rejected this Epistle from Holy Writ, though St. Augustine had counted it among the inspired books more than a thousand years before, and also several Councils had declared it canonical. Without doubt Luther was actuated by the fact that he, and such as he, are painted with living colors in the same Epistle.
In the life of St. Bernard we find that this Saint had a particular devotion to St. Jude. He received, with extraordinary joy and veneration, the relics of this holy Apostle which were sent to him, and, on his death-bed, he requested that they should be laid on his breast and be buried with him.
I. More than thirty years did the holy Apostles work with unwearied zeal for the salvation of souls. Thousands of dangers, persecutions, nay, even death they did not fear, bearing everything joyfully, filled only with the thought of saving souls. What incited them to this? Doubtless, the love of Jesus Christ, who had ransomed those souls with His precious blood, and also pity, as they knew that, blinded by their error, these people would lose eternal life. St. Jude, in his epistle, exhorts us to have compassion on all those who are seduced by the heretics, and to save them from the fire, that is, from the fire of hell. “But others save, pulling them out of the fire; and on others have mercy.” (Jude, xviii.) To-day I request you to have pity on your own soul. “Have pity on thy own soul,” says the Wise Man. (Eccl., xxx.) Your soul has been bought with the priceless blood of Christ: esteem it accordingly, and take care that the blood of your Saviour may not have been shed for it in vain. Your soul, in its sin, is in the greatest danger of being cast into eternal fire. Have pity on it, and drag it forcibly from the precipice on which it stands. It is your soul, your own immortal soul, so dearly bought by Christ, given to you to guard and keep it. If you gain the life to come, your soul will be forever happy; but, if you lose it, your soul will eternally suffer in hell. Who will be injured by this but you? Therefore, commit nothing which may draw after it eternal punishment, and leave nothing undone which may aid you in obtaining the glories of heaven. It is your soul. “Have pity on your own soul!”
II. St. Simon is brought to the idol of the Sun, and St. Jude to that of the Moon, with the command to sacrifice; and, when both declare that they sacrifice only to the true God, both suffer martyrdom. Can you also say, with truth, that you sacrifice only to the true God? How many hours, how much labor, trouble and care have you sacrificed to vanity and pride, to the world, the flesh and the devil? Do you consider that less punishable than to offer a few grains of incense to a lifeless image? Oh! learn to despise this way of conducting yourself, and endeavor to live in such a manner that you may truthfully say that you offer sacrifice to the true God alone. Offer to the Almighty, early in the morning, all your thoughts, words and actions, all your cares and labors, and all that you may have to suffer during the day. During the day, offer to Him the incense which is most agreeable to Him,–that of prayer and good works. Offer Him your self-abnegation, the control of your evil inclinations, especially anger, impatience, and curiosity. Offer your self-conquest, by forgiving those who wrong you; by abstaining from unchaste and slanderous conversation; from intemperance in eating and drinking,–in one word, from everything displeasing to Him. Offer to Him, especially at night, a repentant and contrite heart, a heart ready to serve Him zealously and constantly.” A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalms, 1.). “It is a wholesome sacrifice to take heed to the commandments, and to depart from all iniquity.” (Eccl., xxxv.)
Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.