Feast of Simon and Jude, 28 October, 2020
We know little of Simon and Jude after Pentecost — even the Oxford Dictionary of Saints seems to misattribute Jude’s emblem of a boat to Simon, or vice versa, and Jude is known as ‘patron of hopeless causes’ because so few people prayed to him as he shared the same name as Jesus’ betrayer. But, as we heard in yesterday’s gospel, small beginnings can have great ends and none of the apostles was to see the full flourishing of the Church in their own day. Like Simon and Jude they had to step out in faith, to live in hope, to measure their lives, not by numerical success, but by love. This is the only measure worth considering and where all of us begin, or can make a beginning. Or, in the words of Thomas Merton struggling, as ever, to reconcile his personal fidelity to God with his fidelity to the Church.
A ‘fidelity’ which always demands the sacrifice of the interior and the more perfect in order to conform to an external norm that is mediocre, and requires of us only passivity and inertia, is an infidelity to God and to the Church. Yet, at the same time, we must not make a fetish out of ‘autonomy’ and be faithful only to our own will, for this is the other way to infidelity. The answer is in the Church considered less as an organisation than as a living body of interrelated freedoms. Fidelity belongs not so much to the realm of Law as to the realm of love. But it presupposes obedience and self-sacrifice.
What a beautiful expression — the Church as a living body of interrelated freedoms. All of us, like the apostles and prophets, living stones in a building whose cornerstone is Christ. We may not know our place in that building whether a corbel or a lintel, a pediment or part of a portico, but this is perhaps a measure of our freedom, constrained, not by an anxious self-knowledge, but by the love in which we are held, and upheld, by Christ.