bible blog 280

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

The feast of St. Simon and St. Judas

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22

19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow-citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household.20 You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. 21 Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 and you too, in him, are being built up into a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit.

Gospel, Luke 6:12-16

12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.

13 When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them ‘apostles’: 14 Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.

It is impossible to make the information in the Gospels about the “Twelve” disciples add up. There are discrepancies; which suggests that in the early years of the church the precise details about the Twelve became irrelevant. Jesus chose them to be representative of a renewed Israel that is, of God’s kingdom, but as Israel and the church separated this idea became less important, although the memory of the Twelve lingered on. Almost nothing is known about Simon and Judas, son of James, other than their being numbered with the Twelve. There’s a question about the origin of disciples’ nicknames: Simon called “the rock”, James and John, “the sons of thunder”, the other Simon called “the zealot”, Judas “the man from Kerioth” or maybe “the dagger-man.” Are these given by popular story-tellers or do they go back to Jesus? Can we see him giving his shakiest disciple the name “Rocky” both from wry humour and insight into his future courage? Or laughing at the explosive sons of Zebedee by calling them “thunderers.”? Or characterising the stern Simon with the name “Taliban”? Certainly “zealot” means a member of the guerrilla opposition to Rome and may indicate simply that Simon had belonged to the movement. If so, we are reminded that although Jesus prescribed non-violent opposition to Rome, he was nevertheless condemned as a messianic leader (king of the Jews).

The twelve disciples from the British Museum

The passage from Ephesians says the church is built on the foundation of the Apostles, even of those such as Simon and Judas who have left nothing more than their names. Yet this human structure, held together by Jesus, will outlast any physical temple and provides a dwelling place for God on earth. We, whose names may not even be remembered, should think kindly of our fellow saints whose lives have been forgotten although their names remain.

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