Eph 2:19-22; Ps 19:2-5; Lk 6:12-16
The heavens declare the glory of God because they display the beauty of God. The bright blue sky on a crisp autumn day delights the eyes, and even the grey and cloudy days invite calm and meditation. Indeed the voice of the heavens is the wind, the very breath of God, and the thunder, the very voice of the LORD. The very sky just by being what it is declares the glory of God. The firmament is bright with the moon, sun, stars, rainbows, meteors, comets, galaxies, clouds, and the aurora borealis. Such beauty arrests us, stops us in our tracks, and it demands our loving gaze. When we behold the LORD’s handiwork, how can we stop from singing? The lover of creation, who becomes the lover of the Creator, can no more stop singing than the fire can stop burning. Indeed, we join the silent and noisy rejoicing of all creation: “Blessed be God who pours out the word to day, and imparts knowledge night after night.” Every creature declares, proclaims, and pours out a word of praise and wonder for the mystery of God’s beauty seen in all his handiwork. Indeed, we who listen with the heart hear the word of praise on the lips of brother sun and sister moon. Indeed, all creatures of our God and King invite us to join in their silent melodies. We listen so carefully that not a discourse or a voice is not heard. It is the company of friends gathered around the Word Made Flesh, Jesus the LORD, who continue his discourse and his words in the Scriptures and in the Oral Tradition of the Church. Indeed, it is their voice that resounds to the ends of the world and their message through all the earth. These Apostolic Witnesses have given what only they could give. An eyewitness and an ear witness to the good news of Jesus the Christ. This is the good news every generation has longed to hear. The good news every people have needed to hear. The good news is the Father reaching out to embrace the whole world through his “two arms,” the Son and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Father holds us close to his own heart and summons each one of us to eternal intimacy, face-to-face with the Creator of heaven and earth. This same apostolic witness is the truly good news we have to offer people of our generation and our community.
We celebrate two of the Twelve, Saint Simon and Saint Jude. They are named in today’s gospel as disciples who were called to a further commitment and mission as apostles. These faith filled followers were sent to be faithful witnesses in the word and in the blood. Like most of the earliest believers these two gave everything up in sacrifice with the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. We, too, are called to such a radical witness. We are no strangers to the mysteries of Christ. Indeed, we have shared in his dying and rising. The Holy Spirit has transformed our fear to faith; our witness is unashamed and on occasion even bold. We are not sojourners in the Church. Indeed, we have signed on the dotted line. We are at home in the Body of Christ; our life doesn’t make sense anymore without Christ and his Church. As Saint Paul tells his beloved Ephesians, we are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Notice the use of the less demanding word “holy ones” in the new translation. Why is saint so unfamiliar to us? Are we not called to be saints? If only saints, angels, and God dwell in the heavenly kingdom, where do we fit in? We are not angels, and we are not God, so we must be saints. Yes, those who make it to heaven from the human race are called saints, and that sanctity begins here and now. We have been built upon the solid foundation of the Apostles and prophets; Christ Jesus himself is our capstone. Through him, with him and in him, we are growing together into a holy temple, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Indeed, the LORD God, Almighty, is at home in us and among us. Through our community the LORD welcomes his distant and unfamiliar children to come and realize his love and tender mercy. This is our apostolic witness, first community then preaching and celebrating the mysteries of Christ the LORD. This is how we are fellow citizens with Saint Jude and Saint Simon.
From the Gospel of Saint Luke we learn that Simon was called a Zealot and Judas the son of James was called Jude. Perhaps Simon was called a Zealot because he was a member of the party of the Zealots who were willing to cause the Roman oppressors as much trouble as they could, even to the point of violence. On the other hand Saint Simon the Apostle could have been called a Zealot because before he started following the Lord Jesus he was a member of this revolutionary movement. After meeting the Lord Jesus he had another agenda and another zeal all together. He was struck with “the lightning of meeting Christ the Lord, and it changed everything.” Now, he put away the sword and took up the word, the only weapon fit for the Kingdom of God. Perhaps Judas the son of James was called Saint Jude the Apostle by early church tradition because his name reminded everyone of the other Judas, who became a traitor. Saint Jude was no traitor; he was willing to do what Judas Iscariot was not willing to do. He was willing to take the morsel offered at the Last Supper and become what he ate, the body and blood of Christ. Saint Jude accepted the service of washing dirty feet just as Christ had washed his. Judas Iscariot did neither. His attitude echoes another traitor who shattered the eternal liturgy with his announcement, NON SERVERUM, “I will not serve.” No wonder his name is changed in the tradition. Today we remember and celebrate the Apostles, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, who were chosen by the Lord Jesus after careful thought and a nighttime of prayer to the Father. These Twelve he called to himself and sent forth to proclaim to the ends of the earth, “The Kingdom of God is near!” Are our voices one with this apostolic witness? Are we willing to shed our comforts, attachments, luxuries, and even our blood to give witness to our Lord and Savior?