Saint Simon and Saint Jude *sound* familiar, but beyond associating the latter with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, most of us can’t tell you much about either. In contrast, my students and my children can tell you a lot about celebrities, athletes, billionaire CEOs and investors, YouTube streamers, and (thankfully) book characters. So, why do we recognize St. Simon and St. Jude in October every year? What did they contribute to the Christian cause? We don’t really know.
Anticlimactic, isn’t it?
And I think that’s where the beauty lies in their story. Both apostles who, best we can tell, labored together and died together; might we assume that they were masters of the ordinary? These men carried the torch of Christianity to people who had yet to hear the Good News and then were martyred for it. Beyond that, there is no significant event tying them to greatness and celebrity that transcends centuries.
So to honor their legacy, perhaps this last week of October we remember the individuals in our lives who maintain our every day. Perhaps we spend time intentionally finding and thanking the ordinary people around us for their extra-ordinary presence in our communities. Who are those people who show up and do the work of loving their neighbor every day?
Saint Jude is known for being the patron saint of lost causes (though no one really knows why). Similarly, he is also the patron saint for hospitals and hospital workers. Lord knows our hospital workers are showing up and doing the extraordinary every day. So maybe we find a way to pray for, love, and honor our healthcare professionals in our lives.
As both Saint Simon and Saint Jude traveled and taught others about Christianity, maybe their legacy reminds us to pause and consider the work of the educators in our communities. We have teachers, lay formation leaders, clergy, trainers at work, parents, grandparents, coaches, and other role models across contexts who show up, devote their holy attention to the growth of those around them, and there’s little, if any, glory to show for the consistent work they put in.
My students are learning about where our food comes from as a preamble to launching a food drive at school. From seeds in the ground, through harvest and processing, to distribution around the world… and then how families of varying means come to acquire this food… farmers markets, grocery stores, food pantries… we have a lot to learn about the work required to feed our families. We need food to live, and the work that goes into ensuring there is food on our tables is tremendous and often overlooked. How can we say thank you and recognize that everyday, necessary toil to sustain our lives on Earth?
Jesus said he is the bread of life. As we feast on the bounty of all we have in our lives, let’s slow down enough to honor the work of those who attend daily, who toil endlessly, without fame or glory, to love their neighbors, as we are loved by God.