SS. Simon and Jude are the last two apostles on the list (before Judas Iscariot that is) and Peter comes first. I guess they put them in order of priority because poor old Simon and Jude don’t get much more of a mention. The old stories say they ended up preaching the gospel in Persia, which is modern day Iran, and who would much want to go there I wonder?
Then Jude has the glorious ignominy of being patron saint of lost causes, or would that be ‘last’ causes since he’s mentioned last in the list?
Fact of the matter is, they were still apostles, and that means they were twelve of the greats, and it reminds us that not all the ‘greats’ are great. Many of them are little. Go to Rome and see the gigantic and majestic statues of St Peter and St Paul. Where are Simon and Jude? I guess they must be there somewhere–maybe up on top of the porticos or in some obscure corner, and who goes there to find their statues?
But for my money, they’re the kind of guys I like. I like to think that they were the faithful quiet ones. They just got on with the job of preaching the gospel. They went out to preach and heal and love people and get killed for it just like the others, but they didn’t get famous. They didn’t write lots of books (except for that little one that bears the name of Jude) and if anybody did know them they probably got them mixed up with the other more famous apostles who had the same names:
“Ooooh! You’re the Apostle Peter!! Love your work!!…Oh. You’re the other one? Never heard of you…”
“Ooooh! Mummy, look it’s that nasty Judas Apostle. But I thought he hung himself and his guts spilled out and what’s he doing here then? Oh. He’s the other one. The hopeless cause one. Oh.”
But I like them, just like I like the people who aren’t such brilliant and radiant success stories in life. In fact, I’m tired of the whole American, big, shiny ‘success’ thing, and I’m really, really tired of when we translate that cultural fixation into religious terms and think we’re big wonderful religious successes too when we do everything right and plaster on the shiny smile.
I don’t mind the successful folks. It’s just that I think they can probably look after themselves well enough and don’t need much help. The people I really find attractive, on the other hand, are the ones who are just faithful and quiet and true and never make waves, but just get on and do the job. I like the little guys. I like the little gals. I like them because they’re not actually little. They’re big.
So give me the little way, and let me remind myself and others that Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom.” It wasn’t that he said, “The little way is one way if you want to follow it.”
He said, “It is the only way.” So. St Simon the Unknown and St Jude the Obscure–little big men: Ora pro nobis.