I recently started a podcast called “You Are More,” that focuses on living life outside the box yet inside the bounds of God’s perfect plan. As a therapist, I want people to know they are not defined by any box or label in their life. This idea originated after I wrote a book about each person being more than their relationship status. God defines us; labels just help describe us. One of my podcast guests posited that the saints are more than saints. Though we know saints by the parishes, organizations, and cities that honor them, or by reading their names in Scripture, they are humans at their core. The Chosen is a TV series that exhibits the humanity of Jesus and His disciples beautifully.
After watching the first three seasons of The Chosen, characters pop off the page when I read or hear passages from the Bible. This week, we celebrate two apostles who share a feast day: St. Simon (the Zealot or the Canaanite) and St. Jude (also known as Thaddeus). Both men are lesser known than Peter, James, or John. And yet, they are close followers of our Lord. I can picture their personalities and their journeys. In the show, they are known as “Z” and Thaddeus.
Franciscan Media explains that for Zealots, “the messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jews were to be a free and independent nation. God alone was their king, and any payment of taxes to the Romans – the very domination of the Romans – was a blasphemy against God.” Loyola Press adds that, “some Zealots were very concerned that the spiritual ideals of their religion be kept. But others acted more like modern-day terrorists by raiding, killing, and inciting riots.”
Linked below is a depiction of Simon Z being called to follow Jesus that shows he felt defined by his zealot training and weapons. Jesus told him that He does not need Simon, but he wants him… not for his weapons, but for him.
In this dinner conversation at the Wedding at Cana, Thaddeus shares with the disciples how he met Jesus working by his side at a construction site. Linked below:
The disciples were friends with Jesus and with one another. They lived in community and had their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. The reason the Church shares the stories of the saints is not to show us unattainable ideals, but to remind us of what is possible for each of us. We can find our story in their stories and be encouraged that they were able to hold onto hope, faith, and love throughout life’s ups and downs.
You may be a passionate person who is willing to take risks in the name of peace and justice like Simon Z. You may be meeker and inclined to accompany others, so they feel seen and heard like Thaddeus. You may even connect with another disciple better than either of these men, but that is a beautiful reminder that you are unique and have your own gifts. If you are not authentically you, you cannot be a saint. Jesus made you to be who you are, not someone else. Simon and Thaddeus may be lesser known in the story compared to the bigger names, yet, they are wanted by Christ. Jesus wants you to follow Him just as you are.
Some of us have lost hope in our lives, and as a therapist I like to offer to hold the hope for my clients until they are ready to pick it back up again. In the Church, we know Thaddeus as St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes. His name was originally Judas Thaddeus, which was eerily like the name Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus. Because of this similarity, people were afraid to pray to him until St. Bridget had a vision of Our Lord asking her to confidently pray for his intercession. He became known as Jude to differentiate him from the infamous Judas. Now, countless miracles are attributed to his intercession.
Simon and Jude both show different sides of Our Lord. Our Lord can be determined, feisty, and aggressive while also being slow, quiet, and gentle. Both exhibit hope. Article 1817 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes hope as “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
How are you desiring the kingdom of heaven? How can you place a greater trust in Christ’s promises this week? How can you rely less on your own strength and more on the grace of the Holy Spirit?
Sts. Simon and Jude, pray for us!
**This photo is from The Chosen television series.**