The letter of the Apostle Saint Jude

Every month of the year, there is an Apostle day. Last month was Saint James’ and Saint Philip’s, and today is Saint Matthias’. And in October, we honour two rather quiet figures (their voices do not sound in Holy Scripture): Simon and Jude. Simon was called the Zealot, and was perhaps an actual member of that religio-political movement in the first century that aimed to free the Holy Land from Roman control by martial means and guerrilla tactics. Needless to say, Simon is not known to have associated with that movement after his calling by Christ and the name ‘Zealot’ could simply signify his personal zeal for the Law of God, and so for the glory of God.

Saint Jude, aka. Thaddaeus, is better known to us today, because he is often called the patron Saint of hopeless causes. One of Jude’s letters – a rather short one – sits in our collection of books in the New Testament. This letter has a common theme that it shares with other early letters, that of the spirit of anti-Christ, which ever threatens belief in Christ, and seeks to draw believers back to the world. In this case though, anti-Christ may have infiltrated the Christian community itself:

“Godless men, long since destined thus to incur condemnation, have found their way secretly into your company, and are perverting the life of grace our God has bestowed on us into a life of wantonness; they even deny Jesus Christ, our one Lord and Master… they pollute nature, they defy authority, they insult august names…. Such men sneer at the things they cannot understand; like the brute beasts they derive knowledge only from their senses, and it serves to corrupt them…Godless and sinners, with how many ungodly acts they have defied God, with how many rebellious words have they blasphemed him! Such men go about whispering and complaining, and live by the rule of their own appetites; meanwhile, their mouths are ready with fine phrases, to flatter the great when it serves their ends. But as for you, beloved, keep in mind the warnings given you long since by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they told you, that mocking spirits must needs appear in the last age, who would make their own ungodly appetites into a rule of life.”

Epistle of S. Jude, 4, 8, 10, 15-18

It sounds a little like our present anti-Christian culture, doesn’t it? I think this has always been the case. It has been at rare moments in history that the Church has had any sort of moral claim on society in general, without the heavy arm of the secular law on her side. But, even then, there will always be those who simultaneously mock the moral life of the Christians and our beliefs, and do so openly. The solution to living in such a situation is first to build up the spiritual life of the Christian community…

“It is for you, beloved, to make your most holy faith the foundation of your lives, and to go on praying in the power of the Holy Spirit; to maintain yourselves in the love of God, and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with eternal life for your goal.”

Epistle of S. Jude, 20-21

…and then challenge the rival philosophies and even go so far as to avoid the company of those who refuse to be corrected.

“To some you must give a hearing, and confute them; others you must pluck out of the fire, and rescue them; others again you can only pity, while you shun them; even the outward fringe of what the flesh has defiled must be hateful to you.”

Epistle of S. Jude, 22-23

What does that mean if the scoffers and belligerents are among our own family and friends? Well, that gives us a new perspective on those words of Christ where he says that he comes to bring not peace but the sword…

“And now, whoever acknowledges Me before men, I too will acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven; and whoever disowns Me before men, before My Father in heaven I too will disown him. Do not imagine that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace. I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and the daughter with her mother, and the daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies will be the people of his own house. He is not worthy of Me, that loves father or mother more; he is not worthy of Me, that loves son or daughter more; he is not worthy of Me, that does not take up his cross and follow Me.”

Gospel of S. Matthew, 10: 32-38

Right, then, it’s time to see if we remember all the Apostles by name. Let’s set them all out with a memory assist:

  • B – Bartholomew
  • A – Andrew
  • P – Philip 
  • T – Thomas
  • I – Iohann (John), Iacob (James the Greater), Iacob (James the Lesser), Iuda (Jude Thaddaeus), Iuda (Judas the Traitor)
  • S – Simon called Peter, Simon the Zealot 
  • M – Matthew
back to the letters of the Apostle S. John | letter of S. Jude | on to the book of Apocalypse