Feast of Saint Jude 2016:
This weekend we celebrate with great joy our patronal feast day. We are celebrating the feast of St. Jude, the apostle. What does it mean to say that St. Jude is our patron saint? Certainly, the Church is named after him. So, this parish is dedicated to St. Jude in a special way. I know that non-Catholics can sometimes find this confusing. Does this mean that we worship St. Jude? No, we worship God alone. But, the saints are our examples, our heroes. Also, since we believe that the saints are alive and well in heaven, they are also our powerful advocates and guides. St. Jude is a terrific example for us and a powerful patron.
First, St. Jude provides us with an example of Christian living. In fact, all the apostles do. Think about that list of apostles that we heard in the gospel. We probably think about them in glowing terms, these names call to mind great statues, huge basilicas, and heroic courage. But, they didn’t exactly start that way: one was a crooked tax collector, one was a zealot, one betrayed Jesus, one denied him three times. Over and again in the gospel, we hear them being petty, doubtful, and maybe even arrogant or aloof. And what about St. Jude? What’s interesting is that we know very little about him. All we really have to go on are pious legends. So, here we are at St. Jude parish, it’s a parish dedicated to a relatively unknown person. How did he become so famous? Well, according to legend he and Saint Simon were executed as martyrs for the faith. Their bodies were brought to Rome and buried in St. Peter’s basilica. However, pilgrims began to bring petitions to St. Jude. They found that their prayers were being answered. So, his fame spread. And here we are at St. Jude Catholic Church 2000 years later.
The example of the apostles is that no matter where we are now, we can always move toward greatness. No matter what kind of sinner we might be, we can always become great saints. The apostles went from sinners, doubters, deniers, and unknowns, to great saints because of their relationship with the risen Christ. When Christ gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, it changed their hearts and their lives. They became the great heroes of the faith not because of their own merits, but because of the power of God at work within them. So, hopefully St. Jude be an example for us all. We might not be important, or famous. But, we too can be saints by God’s power.
Second, we call St. Jude our patron. What does that mean? It means that we can have a relationship with him, because he is not dead, but alive. The saints are living with God. They can pray for us, guide us, and help us.
St. Jude is also known as being a patron for especially difficult and hopeless cases. I remember learning about this for the first time. I was a seminarian and I was assigned to St. Pius for the summer. Fr. Bill Schooler is the pastor there, and he was formerly the pastor right here at St. Judes. The first night I was at the rectory we were in the living room chatting and hanging out. Fr. Bill had a cat who came slinking into the room. Now, I’m not much of an animal person. But, I think animals can sense that, so they are always trying to cozy up to me to get me to change my mind. But, this, of course, makes me like them even less… Anyway, Fr. Bill’s cat jumped right on my lap. Fr. Bill told me that this cat would never do this normally. Anyway, I asked what the cat’s name was, he said: She’s hopeless. Hopeless, that’s a weird name for a cat. So, he told me that he named her after St. Jude, who was the patron for hopeless cases because he got the cat while he was pastor here. I found that interesting.
The reason that St. Jude is patron of those hopeless cases is because those people who went to his tomb would bring their most difficult and seemingly impossible cases and they would receive miracles in their lives. So, I love having St. Jude as our patron. No problem is too tough for him. He can pray and guide us always. Outside of the school we have that beautiful St. Jude statue. I like to walk past it every day on the way to church. Whatever problem or issue is weighing on me, I just hand it over to him. I always say: St. Jude, this is your parish, not mine. Help me out with this issue. I’m telling you, it really helps. Maybe you could try the same thing.
What a great feast day for us. St. Jude is a wonderful example for us of being a saint, and he is a powerful intercessor. As his parish, we turn to him today and always. We ask for guidance and prayers. No problem is too tough for him. So, today and always we pray: St. Jude our Patron, pray for us.