How do you feel when you are chosen to do something important? Honored, surprised, nervous? Some of the apostles must have felt as you do.
After spending much time in prayer, Jesus decided to choose 12 men, 12 rather unlikely candidates, who would be his apostles and proclaim the Kingdom of God to all people. Simon the Zealot was one who was called. The Zealots were a Jewish group who believed that the promise of the Messiah meant a free and independent Jewish nation where they would never have to pay taxes to the Romans again. Some Zealots were also very concerned that the spiritual ideals of their religion be kept. But others in the group acted more like modern-day terrorists by raiding, killing, and inciting riots. Simon was known as “the zealot” to distinguish him from Simon Peter.
At the same time, Jesus called Jude Thaddeus, brother of James, most likely a fisherman by trade. Along with 10 other men, these two followed Jesus, lived with him, fled when he underwent his Passion, and rejoiced when he rose from the dead. At Pentecost they were filled with the Spirit and a burning desire to spread the Good News to all. Jude traveled to Mesopotamia to preach, and Simon went to Egypt. Eventually they both ended up in Persia, modern-day Iran. There they worked together evangelizing the people until they were both martyred. These two unlikely candidates for apostleship finally witnessed to the risen Lord with their lives.
Traditionally Saint Jude the Apostle is identified with the author of the Letter of Jude in the New Testament. He has also come to be known as the saint of hopeless cases.
Image credit: Saint Jude Thaddaus by Anthony van Dyck, 1621. Public Domain via Wikimedia.