Today we hear the familiar roll call of the Twelve Apostles. The symbolism of the number twelve is self-evident. Jesus made clear a relationship between the old covenant people represented by its twelve tribes and the people of the new community represented by the twelve apostles, with the latter taking precedence over the former. The ancient nation of Israel had begun with the patriarchs, the fathers of the twelve tribes. The new Israel, the spiritual descendants of Abraham, began with the twelve apostles. They were the new covenant counterpart to the twelve patriarchs. They formed the transition group between the past and the future, between the ancient people and the new community.
In the Book of Genesis, God had promised Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars. That promise is fulfilled through Jesus who sends the Twelve to bring the Good News to the whole world. The traditions that have grown up around the Twelve Apostles report their far flung missionary journeys to the then known world.
Of the Twelve Apostles, Simon is often associated with Jude as an evangelizing team. The most widespread tradition is that after evangelizing in Egypt, Simon joined Jude in Persia and Armenia or Beirut, Lebanon, where both were martyred in 65 AD.
Jude is often called the patron of lost causes. Because of the fact that his name is the same as that of the traitor, he was often overlooked as an intercessor in the prayers of the early Christian community. Only the most desperate would call upon him which led to our present devotion to him as the one to call upon in the most difficult situations.
As we remember these two apostles today, we are reminded of our own call to bring the Good News of the Gospel to all people.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.