On Saturday of this week British Summer Time ends and the church remembers St Simon and St Jude. Apart from Judas Iscariot, Simon and Jude are at the end of the list of the twelve named early disciples of Jesus. I say ‘the church remembers them’ but actually little is known about them. Simon is sometimes known as Simon the Zealot, partly to distinguish him from the other Simon – later given the name Peter by Jesus – and partly, presumably because of his zealous adherence to Jewish law and custom. Jude is also called Jude Thaddeus and is traditionally identified with Jude, the brother of James, and the writer of the Epistle of Jude in the New Testament – but none of this is entirely certain and their later years are recorded only in apocryphal writings.
Tradition has it, that when the eleven disciples left Jerusalem to proclaim the Kingdom of God in other lands, Jude went to Syria, Armenia and Ancient Persia, where he met up with Simon, and together they made many coverts to Christ, principally from amongst the Babylonians. Of course, to preach the Gospel of Christ met with opposition as well as converts, and Simon and James are said to have been arrested by the King of Persia and taken to the Temple of the Sun. Their punishment was to worship the goddess Diana and so deny Christ – they refused and Jude declared all pagan idols false. It is said that when he did that, two horrible demons came out of the altar and destroyed him, whereupon the frightened people who were watching, fell on Simon and Jude and destroyed them; their bones are reputedly preserved in Rome, in the basilica of St Peter.
Jude is perhaps best known as the Saint of ‘Lost Causes’, when all else fails, turn to Jude and ask him to intercede on our behalf! Once again there is no known reason for this, except that he is reported to have been sent by Jesus to see the ruler of Edessa who was smitten with an incurable and extremely painful disease. Jude laid hands on him and he was cured. Perhaps more plausible is that the Epistle of Jude encourages us to stand firm in the truth of Christ and always fight for the truth, however difficult the circumstances.
Those of us who profess to be followers of Christ know that there is nothing that is impossible for Him, with or without Jude.