Friday, October 28, 2016

Named & Thus Known: The Apostles Simon and Jude

The Collect for the Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles

O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Holy Day commemorates two of the Apostles about whom we know the least. One of the most trustworthysites on the Web with regard to the Episcopal Calendar has an extensive entry on these Apostles, trying to clarify their identity and history from available sources (including a very good section on what “praying to the saints” means and what it—theologically—cannot mean).

For this writer, however, one of the most important meanings about this Feast Day is the fact that Simon and Jude, though largely mysterious figures, are remembered because they are named in the list of Apostles to be found in the New Testament.

Being named in the Judeo-Christian tradition means being known. Running throughout the Sacred Scriptures from the naming of Adam and Eve in Genesis through the new names we all told we will all receive in Revelation, it is clear that being named means having a relationship with God and each other—a relationship that is not erased by lack of biographical detail.

Though Simon and Jude are little known in terms of deeds or achievements, they were chosen by Christ, recorded as his servants, and thus are known to God and his Church forever. In an era where the focus is almost exclusively on “deliverables,” “metrics,” or output, it is very important to know that one can be accounted a saint of God without having a lengthy list of achievements to show for it. The important thing is that they followed Christ—imperfectly but faithfully, there being an important difference between these two things. Our baptism into Christ’s body is our naming, our being known to God forever, and we should rejoice in this more than we do.

The collect for this day asks God that we may with ardent (a word literally meaning glowing or with fire) devotion make known the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. In our own day, it is precisely this love and mercy which needs attention: A love that is not permissiveness but fidelity to Christ’s example of self-giving care, and a mercy that is not indifference to justice but a deep appraisal of the true worth and need of each person.

If we can apply this collect’s concern to our daily life and relationships in just one concrete way, then we are joining these two holy-but-largely-unknown Apostles in their ministry, and by God’s mercy, will join them in their heavenly reward, where we will all be recognized as the unique and unrepeatable children of God we are: named and thus known to our Lord forever.

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