Saint Jude Apostle
Saint Jude was among those the Gospel calls the brothers of the Lord. In the past, that term was employed among the Jews to designate not only sons of the same mother, but all male family members, and sometimes even close friends. In this instance, Jude was the first cousin of Jesus, for his father, Saint Cleophas, was the brother of Joseph, the foster father of the Saviour. Jude had three brothers and two sisters who all figure in the Gospel narratives: James the Less, one of the twelve Apostles; Simon or Simeon, who succeeded James on the see of Jerusalem; Joseph, called Barsabas and surnamed Justus, one of the seventy-two disciples; Salome, the mother of James and John, both of them Apostles; and finally, Mary.
To distinguish Jude from the traitor Judas, his contemporaries surnamed him Lebbeus, that is, a courageous man. Others called him Thaddeus, a man of heart, thus indicating the main features of his character: strength and kindness. Christian generations have retained the second appellation to designate Saint Jude the Apostle.
We do not know how or when Jude became a disciple of Our Lord. The Gospel says nothing about him till the day Jesus made him one of the Twelve. Saint Jude was especially dear to his Master, not because of the bonds of blood, but rather because of his scorn of the world and his lively zeal. On the evening of the Last Supper, when the Saviour promised that He would manifest Himself to those who loved Him, Jude asked Him, Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world? Jesus explained to him that the world does not deserve that God should manifest Himself to it, for it is the declared enemy of souls by its deadly doctrine and principles. Only those who lovingly accomplish the desires of God will enjoy that ineffable privilege.
After Pentecost, Jude united with the rest of the Apostolic College to preach the Good News in Judea. His zeal prompted him to go to Samaria and Mesopotamia, and all the way to Lybia. Back in Jerusalem after the martyrdom of his brother James, he attended the election of his other brother, Simeon, to govern the Church of that city.
From Saint Jude we have an epistle addressed to all the Churches of the East, particularly to the converted Jews, who had been the main object of his labors. Saint Peter had already addressed two epistles to them, one of which warned the faithful against several current heresies. Saint Jude was inflamed by his zeal upon seeing these heresiarchs wreaking havoc in the Church. Availing himself of the second epistle of Saint Peter, he made a commentary on it to the threatened flocks. He employed some very strong and expressive epithets to depict the heretics. Among other things, he called them wandering stars, who after shining for an instant, go and are lost in an eternal night. According to him, their fall comes from the fact that they murmur and criticize, follow the perversity of their inclinations and abandon themselves to pride, envy and sensual pleasures. He also blames them for neglecting penance and not crucifying the unruly desires of the flesh.
Even so, his tender heart is moved at the sight of poor sinners, and he entreats the faithful to treat with compassion those who have fallen. All do not fall voluntarily; one must distinguish sins committed by malice from those made out of weakness. May the faithful strive to bring the guilty back to the practice of the Commandments with a salutary fear and snatch them out of the fire of vice and heresy. In conclusion, Jude exhorts the young Christian community to pray to the Holy Spirit with faith in order to grow in the love of God, with confidence in His divine mercy.
Jude now resumed his apostolic courses, alone at first, then in the company of Simon, called the Zealot. The two Apostles headed for Persia, where they made numerous conversions, including the general of the royal armies. Now, the priests of the idols, seeing that these conversions were reducing their revenue, conceived an implacable hatred for the two preachers of Christ. One day when the two Saints were preaching in the city of Suanyr, some idolaters dragged them into a temple and wanted to force them to adore representations of false gods. But Jude and Simon, armed with the power of Jesus Christ, commanded the demons to cease their infernal deceit and leave the statues. At once two horrible figures went out of the temple, letting out dreadful howls. Instead of moving the hearts of the pagan priests, this miracle of the divine power exasperated their fury even further, and they pounced on the Apostles and killed them.
Saint Jude is invoked with great success in desperate cases. His feast day is celebrated together with Saint Simon, his companion in the apostolate, on October 28.
Sources: M. J. Collin de Plancy, Grande Vie des Saints (Louis Vivès: Paris, 1878), Vol. XX, pp. 426-430; Rev. Canon Alfred Weber, Acts of the Apostles supplemented and continued up to the death of Saint John (Magnificat: Mont-Tremblant, 2015), pp. 218-219; Msgr. Jean-Joseph Gaume, Biographies évangéliques, les parents de Notre-Seigneur (Gaume: Paris, 1890), pp. 5-26.
- ⇑ St. John 14:22.
Prayer to Saint Jude Thaddeus
O Saint Jude, my most powerful advocate, behold me humbly prostrate at your feet to expose my spiritual and corporal needs. Deign to cast a gaze of goodness upon me.
Your heart is especially inclined to come to the help of afflicted souls, so I cannot doubt that you would think of me with sentiments of merciful tenderness.
Therefore, I put my entire confidence in you; let yourself be touched by my distressing situation. Comfort me, deliver me from my difficulties, so that, being freer to serve God and to love Him in this life, I may one day be admitted to the everlasting joys of the future life. Amen.