Saint Brigid Religious Education
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Jude "Thaddeus"

When Judah, the son of Jacob, was born, his pious mother joyfully called out, "'Now will I praise the Lord.' And for this she called him Juda."

Jude was a farmer. He spread the grains of barley and corn on the soil of the land laid open by a plough. He was married before he was called by Christ. Then he sowed the seed of the word of God over the wide spaces of the earth. How well he could understand the following parables of Christ!

Matthew and Mark called him Thaddeus. The Apostle Jude Thaddeus had a name that was as famous and honorable in his day. And in the synagogue he quietly listened on many Sabbaths to sermons inspired by the life and religion of this national hero. When the apostle later found himself in difficult situations, he could look back on his ideal.

He had two grandsons, Zoker and James. They lived as simple farmers too. His Epistle, like that of his brother James, is the writing of a farmer. It is forcible, almost rough, neither fine nor delicate, with images from scenes of life in the country.

This apostle, too, like James, was closely related to Jesus. St. Luke was the first to mention this apostle by his proper name, Jude the brother of James." That these two were brothers is shown in several passages in Holy Scripture. Both Matthew and Luke referred to them as brothers, and Jude himself wrote in the beginning of his Epistle that he was "the brother of James" the bishop of Jerusalem.

It is also noteworthy that the evangelists Matthew and Mark placed James the Less and Thaddeus next to each other in their lists of the apostles. At the same time, the question whether James and Jude were blood brothers or only brothers in the sense of cousins cannot be answered with certitude and must be left unsolved. There was another ray of light that fell upon this good Jude, He was not only the brother of the distinguished James, but also a "brother" of the Lord Himself. The Nazarenes asked about Jesus, " 'Is not this the carpenter...the brother of James...(and) Jude?'" It is not improper to think that this apostle played and prayed with Jesus in the happy days of their youth. They might well have run and rambled together on the way to the great feasts in Jerusalem.

Conscientiously he conformed to his duty to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year for Easter, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. But he was only too glad to return to his own village in Galilee. Perhaps it was Cana, or it could even have been Nazareth. In the Holy City there was too much noise and bustle. The crowds were large and impatient; the market place was dirty and confusing. There was no quiet. Jude wanted to live in his own small and quiet village and with his own family. Here his farm blossomed and flourished. Here his wife was contented and his children played. And yet, the day was near when he was to leave his loved family, to give up his peaceful home, and to choose instead the homelessness of the streets. Jude Thaddeus was a courageous man. When he was called to follow the Lord as an apostle, to leave his wife and children, his home and fields, he gave his commitment courageously and went out to be a messenger of the kingdom of God.

He was so brave that his bravery must have astonished even the Galileans, for they called him simply Thaddeus, the courageous one. He was the bravest of the brave! And this name followed him into the lists of the apostles in Sacred Scripture. Christ demanded strong men; He was able to endow weak men with strong natures through graces. The strong could feel themselves touched by Christ; the weak could feel themselves drawn to Him. The power of Jesus is so great that He can perfect the strong as well as the weak.

Among the sacred writings of the New Testament there is found an Epistle written by Jude. This Epistle has been attributed to the apostle Jude since early times, and for good reasons. It was boldly and powerfully written, and only a Thaddeus, a courageous one, could have written it. The whole Epistle is only twenty-five verses long. The apostle addressed it "to the called who have been loved in God the Father and preserved for Christ Jesus. The Epistle of St Jude was written between the years 62 and 67,

God inspired him and directed him. Here it becomes apparent that the courage of the apostle Jude Thaddeus was a grace from God. The only credible and reliable stories from his life are those drawn from the apostle's own Epistle. Legends maintain that Jude Thaddeus first labored among his own people in Palestine, and then journeyed through the neighboring lands, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia.

He is said to have suffered martyrdom in Berythus (now Beirut, capital of Lebanon) or in Aradus in Phoenicia. When the apostles entered the city of Suanir, they were called upon to offer sacrifice in the pagan temple to the sun and the moon. Both explained that the sun and the moon were only creations of the one true God, whom they preached. The priests and people assailed the two apostles. And Jude said to Simon, "I see my Lord Jesus Christ calls us." A shower of stones and a barrage of sticks killed them-therefore artists have portrayed Jude with a stick in his hand. King Xerxes, as the legend continues, supposedly had the bodies of these two apostles martyrs taken to the city in which he resided. There he ordered that a beautiful, eight-sided church be constructed out of marble. He had their bodies preserved in a silver sarcophagus placed in a small room plated with gold. The building should have been completed in three years, and consecrated on the day of the apostles' death, July 1.

Jude Thaddeus was the patron of Christians troubled with cares and anxieties, patron of Christians who are on the verge of despair.

St. Jude's feast: day is October 28 (with St. Simon).

 

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