Friday, April 20, 2012

April 21: St. Jude Thaddeus, Apostle

Saint Jude Thaddeus, Apostle
By Ed Ross II

Saint Jude, also called Thaddeus, was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles.  He was born in the village of Paneas, in Galilee.  His father was Clopas, also known as Alpheus, and his mother was Mary of Clopas, an older sister of the Virgin Mary, thus making Saint Jude the cousin of Jesus.  He had an older brother James who also became a saint and was known as Saint James the Lesser or James the Just.  Saint Jude and his brother Saint James are believed to be the closest relatives of Jesus that ended up being his apostles.  He married a woman named Mary and they had at least one child, which is known because it is acknowledged that they had living grandchildren around the year 95 AD.  He worked as a tenant farmer (he rented land to farm) and the couple was probably quite poor.

Saint Jude came to Jerusalem to worship in the days of John the Baptist and was baptized by him.  After being exposed to Jesus’ and his teachings, Saint Jude began following Jesus and was his disciple.  Eventually, Jesus selected Saint Jude as the tenth of the twelve apostles.  Since he was an apostle, we know that he was one of the closest witnesses to Jesus’ teachings and works.

Saint Jude went on to preach the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Syria, Idumaea, Libya, and Mesopotamia.  Eventually, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62 AD to help choose the Bishop of Jerusalem.  After Saint Simeon, another of Saint Jude’s brothers, was selected Bishop, Saint Jude went back to traveling and teaching the Gospel.  He was martyred in 65 AD in Armenia, which would convert to Christianity some 250 years later.  Not much else is known about Saint Jude, possibly because he spent much time traveling and preaching. 

Many believe that Saint Jude wrote the epistle of Jude in the Bible.  This epistle is a very short letter addressed to the church, warning about false teachers and corrupt influences.

Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.  This is most likely due to the results that many have experienced from praying through the intercession of Saint Jude through the centuries that have passed since his death.  Many people pray through the intercession of Saint Jude when it seems as though all hope is lost and their situation might seem unchangeable.  It has also become very popular for Saint Jude devotees to publicly thank him for their prayers being answered by doing things like putting an ad in the newspaper or writing it on a website.  There is even a website devoted to this ( where people post thank you messages.

There are many examples of Saint Jude’s intercession for us in today’s world.  The most significant one that comes to mind is Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.  It is a non-profit hospital and was founded in 1964 when the survival rate for the most common type of childhood leukemia was 4 percent.  The survival rate is currently 94 percent.  The survival rate for many other types of cancer has also greatly increased.  This is a shining example of how Saint Jude has helped those who have been deemed “lost causes”.  It shows us that Saint Jude’s name isn’t simply on the building; he is truly interceding for these sick children and future children that might be afflicted with one of these horrible diseases.

If Saint Jude were here today, he would minister to a variety of people and problems.  Saint Jude would help the depressed and ill.  He would pray with the depressed and tell them that that nothing could be so bad that God couldn’t help them through it.  He would tell the ill to keep their faith in God and that there is always hope for recovery.  He would go to the hospital named for him to visit and pray with and for the sick children that are there.  Saint Jude would not only help people with personal depression, illness, and other issues, but would help people with many larger, seemingly hopeless, problems.  He would pray for and preach on apparently hopeless problems like abortion, the death penalty, and world hunger.  Even getting the democrats and republicans to work together might not be out of reach for Saint Jude.  The point is that there is nothing that is too hopeless!

Saint Jude gives us all the hope that we are sometimes lacking in difficult times.  We need to help others, as Saint Jude helps us, that we know are going through difficult times or dealing with difficult issues and help them to trust in God.   If we follow Jesus, like Saint Jude did, there are always reasons to be hopeful!

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