Citizens with the Saints- Reflection for Mass of October 28, 2009- St. Simon and St. Jude

28 Oct

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
Readings: Ephesians 2;19-22; Psalm 19:2-5; Luke 6:12-19

Citizenship is an important characteristic for many people. When I have applied to study at universities, or to work, the applications have often asked me to state my citizenship. With some pride about having been born in and living in a prosperous and peaceful country, I have filled in or selected “Canadian.” That said, it brings me much sadness at times to complete the paperwork of the refugees I have worked with both in Windsor and here in Toronto. Those forms also ask for the refugee’s citizenship. When I read his or her country of origin, I realize deeply that the people with whom I work have been persecuted, threatened, and driven from their homeland. Somehow I must give these people hope and show them compassion in a land foreign to them.

The earliest Christian communities were like those of foreigners to our own country in our time. Paul writes to the small Ephesian Christian communities- scattered, maligned for a variety of reasons by surrounding pagans, occasionally brutally persecuted (1)- that they have obtained the only citizenship that matters: they belong to “the household of God.” (2) Like being made citizens of a nation automatically by birth, their belonging to God’s household is less about their own effort than that of Christ who holds the “whole structure”- the Church, God’s kingdom on earth- together as a “holy temple” and “dwelling place for God.” (3) Thus with the Lord we are “no longer strangers and aliens.” (4)

Granted, Paul wrote from an advantageous position; he was a Pharisee and also a Roman citizen. (5) Paul could be compared with those today who enjoy legal privileges due to multiple citizenships. But Paul sacrificed his religious and legal rank to become a servant of Christ, a missionary to those without status. Paul is therefore counted among the Apostles, although he was not one of the original Twelve.

 Jesus’ choice of the Twelve in today’s Gospel also shows what it means to be an Apostle and to belong to God’s household. Jesus welcomed all kinds: impulsive people like Peter who denied Him (6), Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him (7), Thomas who believed only upon seeing the marks of the nails and lance on the risen Jesus (8), Matthew, a tax collector (9), Zealots like Simon who were part of a movement seeking a messiah figure who would overthrow the Romans in Israel (10), and those like Jude, named “Judas son of James” by Luke (10), whom we know little about except a later traditional patronage to “hopeless cases.” (12)

The Apostles, diverse as they were, were unified under Christ. However, the variety of those they would serve was more important than their own. We hear that people came from Tyre and Sidon, distant Gentile territory, to hear Jesus. (13) That diversity is a characteristic of the Church today as it was in the Apostles’ time.

As diverse as the Church is, we are all united by Christ, whose power spreads over us and heals all of us. Thus we are welcomed as “members of the household of God” and “citizens with the saints.” (14) Let us pray then especially for the consolation of those who have sought refuge from threats to their lives or security, and that our Church may increasingly be a place of welcome and healing as Christ intended her to be.

WRS

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2 Responses to “Citizens with the Saints- Reflection for Mass of October 28, 2009- St. Simon and St. Jude”

  1. canadiancatholicblog October 27, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    Notes:

    (1) A good source on the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is a textbook by Everett Ferguson for a History of Christianity course I am currently taking, particularly the chapter entitled “The Church and the Empire.” Everett Ferguson, Church History. Volume one: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) 64-85.
    (2) Ephesians 2:19
    (3) Ephesians 2:21-22
    (4) Ephesians 2:19
    (5) cf. Philippians 3:5, Acts 22:25-28
    (6) cf. Luke 22:54-65
    (7) cf. Luke 22:47-48
    (8) cf. John 20:24-29
    (9) cf. Matthew 9:9
    (10) cf. Luke 6:15. See also the Wikipedia article on “Zealotry,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zealotry.
    (11) cf. Luke 6:16
    (12) Notes on “Saint Simon and Saint Jude,” in “Living with Christ,” Vol. 15, No. 10 (Montreal: Novalis, October, 2009) 170.
    (13) cf. Luke 6:17. Tyre and Sidon were ancient Phoenician cities.
    (14) Ephesians 2:19

    WRS

    • sjdemoor85 November 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

      Awesome awesome list. Thanks for compiling, I will come back to reference in the future. I am trying to get a new blog off the ground here in Colorado, you may enjoy checking it out. Blessings to you.
      Seth J. DeMoor
      http://sjdemoor.wordpress.com

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