St. Simon and St. Jude are honored in the Episcopal Church on Friday, October 28th. How might you celebrate? – Ed.
In August I completed a questionnaire about our 7-year-old for the gifted education program at his elementary school. This program is designed to identify children who are creative thinkers with a wide breadth of interests, rather than the traditional accelerated readers or math prodigies. I found the final question on the lengthy application particularly brilliant:
“What are the last three questions your child asked you?”
From the incessant why, why, why questions of a 2-year-old to the deeper questions stemming from observed injustices of an 8-year-old, questions tell us so much about what is happening in the minds and hearts of our children. Asking questions is a powerful way of learning for children, for all people really, but for some reason around middle school age most of us stop asking them. Perhaps it’s because we assume we know everything we need to know or perhaps we don’t want to expose the fact that we don’t know everything. Whatever the reason may be, the outcome is the same: fewer questions.
On October 28 the Church lifts up Saints Simon and Jude, apostles of Jesus Christ: two men who are barely mentioned in the Bible. We actually know more about who they are not than who they are, because there were better-known disciples bearing the same names.
Simon was not Simon Peter but was known as “Simon the Cananaean” or “Simon the Zealot.” Simon’s name appears in all four gospels but only when authors are listing the apostles. Jude is described as “Judas, not Iscariot” so people would not confuse him with the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Luke names him as “Judas son of James,” but Matthew and Mark avoid any possibility of mistaking him for Judas Iscariot by naming him as “Thaddaeus,” rather than Judas. This is also why we know him today as Saint Jude rather than Saint Judas.
Unlike Simon, Jude does have one line of dialogue in the Gospels. After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he begins preparing his friends for what would happen next. Soon, he says, “the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them’” (John 14:19-22).
This ambiguous language, so common in John’s Gospel, confused Jude. Rather than worrying about appearing ignorant or weak, Jude spoke up and asked a clarifying question. “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22). And that’s it. Jude’s legacy is based on this one spoken question.
We learn so much through the questions we ask and are asked. So as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St Simon and St Jude next week, I invite you to pray about the role questioning plays in your household. How do you respond when your toddler points at every single new thing, wondering about its name and purpose? How do you foster curiosity in your school age children? How are you encouraging your teenagers to keep voicing their questions even when they’re challenging to you, even when they are embarrassed to speak up in school? How are you nourishing your own inquiries?
[Image credit: Public domain via Pixabay.]
How do you encourage questions in your family?