I recently received a pretty cool gift. It is a button with the words: Never Too Punk Rock For Jesus.
I was just a little punk rock for a season. I still have the earrings and MXPX albums to prove it. But truly, my younger brother was the epitome of punk rock. He had a mohawk that was nearly 2 ft. tall, and his hair usually contained a rainbow of colors. He often made or altered his own clothing from a patchwork of fabrics. He has always been an artsy showstopper with a certain charisma.
One time, my brother was riding in the car with my wife (they were actually going to pick up his tux for our wedding). They were stopped at a traffic light. The driver of another car found herself a little mesmerized by my brother’s enchanting mohawk, and… BAM! She smacked right into the back of the car in front of her!
The truth is that many people often made (and still make) negative assumptions about my brother because of his appearance. But what I admire most about my brother is his deep contentment with himself. He is completely comfortable in his own skin and is not worried about what other people think or feel about him.
I imagine each of today’s saints to be much like that: comfortable and content with whom they were.
We don’t know too terribly much about Simon or Jude. Legends regard them as martyred in Persia. We don’t know why they traveled together or what exactly drew them towards one another in their shared ministry. Simon was known as the Zealot; was Jude an opposite in personality or approach to ministry? Was Simon a hothead, more aggressive and outspoken, and thus, was Jude more gentle and peaceful? There is an assumption or belief that they complemented one another in ministry.
The Gospel assigned for the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude comes from the 15th chapter of John (v.17-27) in which Jesus tells the disciples that the world would hate them. Jesus doesn’t promise accolades or favor from the world and society. Instead, he prepares the disciples to encounter tension. In essence, the disciples would be seen as misfits in tension with the established social norms and hierarchies. Sounds pretty punk rock to me.
One of the particulars that set the followers of Jesus apart from the norms of society was the command to love one another. Following Jesus and being in community with one another required communal dependence upon one another. It required a particular bond. This was, and still is, counter-cultural in many ways, and I imagine, a hallmark of the shared ministry of Simon and Jude.
We remember Simon and Jude as faithful and zealous, and I believe they remind us to have a deep appreciation and confidence in our own particular gifts. Further, they encourage an appreciation for the unique gifts, traits, and personalities of others in our community. We need not try to be something we are not, and we definitely should not try to be all things to everyone. We are simply called to be ourselves, and truly, the very best of who and what God created and intends us to be.
When we encounter Jesus, I believe we move towards becoming the very best of ourselves. And our witness to the world is that Jesus is at work in our lives: shaping, forming and binding us together in grace, peace, and love. And that is an important reminder we receive from Simon and Jude: our need for each other that binds us together as the people and kingdom of God.
Simon and Jude: maybe just enough punk rock for Jesus.
A Prayer for Today
O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
What are ways you witness to and tell the story of the work of Jesus in your life,
particularly with your children and family?