Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The Lord our justice.”
In today’s first reading, we hear the prophet Jeremiah speaking to the Israelites who were scattered and in exile. Not only will their king one day be both wise and good, but he will bring peace. Even more, he promises to share his justice with all the people. While the people were in such pain at the time of this prophet, it’s likely that most could not even fathom, let alone believe, this message. But the message was carried forward by those who could believe and hope – from generation to generation. St. Jude, not to be confused with the Judas who betrayed Jesus, was one who hoped, believed, and spread the news of Jesus around the world.
St. Jude, sometimes called Thaddeus (which means sweetness or gentleness), was the son of Mary of Clopas, a cousin of the Virgin Mary and therefore a relative of Jesus. But it was more than genes that held Jude close to Jesus. He is one of the twelve apostles who left everything to follow Jesus. He was present at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on those gathered in the upper room. From there, he bravely spread the Gospel in Samaria, Syria, Judea, Idumaeia (part of Israel and Jordan today), and Libya (northern Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea). He also brought the Good News to areas today known as Iraq, Kuwait, and Turkey. As with most of the apostles, Jude was martyred.
So, while not much else is known about St. Jude, we do know he was a faithful follower of Jesus even in dire situations. He trusted in God’s promises, and he understood that God poured out on us the justice he promised, promised even long ago in the time of Jeremiah. That justice means our sins are forgiven, that God acts wisely and compassionately for us in all things, and that he will bring us to the land of peace.
The last letter in the New Testament, just before the Book of Revelation, is a short epistle attributed by some scholars to St. Jude. Maybe he is best known as the Saint of Impossible Cases, but that is because he is truly an apostle of faith and hope. Faith in God’s promises is what makes miracles possible, and hope helps us realize that even if things are difficult here on earth, a better home awaits us in heaven.
St. Jude’s letter teaches us this way: “But you, beloved, grow strong in your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit. Persevere in God’s love, and welcome the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which leads to life eternal… There is one who can protect you from a fall and make you stand unblemished and exultant in the presence of his glory…”
St. Jude is today’s Ornament of Grace.
OBSERVING THE BEAUTIFUL ORNAMENTS
Why do you think St. Jude or other saints in heaven are happy to intercede for us when we call upon them?
What hope do you have that keeps you moving forward toward the joy of the peaceful kingdom even while struggling here on earth?