Serving in obscurity

Image of St. Jude, St. Thomas  Aquinas Church, Ames, IA

Image of St. Jude, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Ames, IA

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the apostles Simon and Jude.

Simon is often referred to as the Zealot (since he might have been connected with the anti-Roman Zealots of his time) or as Simon the Less to distinguish him from Simon Peter.

Jude is sometimes called Judas Thaddeus since some of the lists of apostles name a “Thaddeus” in place of a “Jude.” He is also called Judas, not the Iscariot, to distinguish him from Judas who betrayed the Lord.

What they did after Pentecost is known only in terms of legends. Supposedly both were martyred together in Persia.

They lived in obscurity.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman noted this in one of his sermons.

Little is known of St. Simon and St. Jude…

And hence we draw an important lesson for ourselves. which, however obvious, is continually forgotten by us in the actual business of life; namely, to do our duty without aiming at the world’s praise.

This year I seem to be noting how many of those we call saints actually lived in obscurity, serving without being known beyond the city where they lived or even only in their family.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am taken in by the vanity of seeking recognition and so write and promote my blog. Is my writing a way of trying to bring attention to me?

The only recorded words of St. Jude in the Gospel are in John 14: 22: “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself clearly to us and not to the world?” They seem to be a question about whether Jesus will really show himself to the world as he really is, so that people may recognize him.

But Jesus answers, seemingly avoiding the question:

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

Will we be dwelling places of God who will make known to people, through living the Word of God in the obscurity of our lives, the loving and saving presence of God in the world?

And so today we can contemplate the obscurity of Saints Simon and Jude – and ask them to show us how we can show forth God’s love in the little things of our lives.


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