Believing in the Apostolic Church, Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, Apostles
October 28, 2013
Eph 2:19-22, Ps 19, Lk 6:12-16

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • During this Year of Faith, it’s important for us to ponder what we pray as a community on Sunday in the Nicene Creed and profess every day in the Apostles’ Creed when we pray the Holy Rosary: “I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.” Today’s feast of the apostles’ Saints Simon and Jude is an occasion for us to focus on the apostolic dimension of the Church. In today’s first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we read that we are not a bunch of individual spiritual monads who have happened to become associated in a loose association of religious affinity, but rather we are “fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.” We are God’s adopted children, fellow citizens with the saints in heaven, and our lives are built upon the foundation of the apostles, Saints Simon and Jude, Peter, John and all the others.
  • The fundamental reason we believe in this reality of the apostolic Church is not for historical reasons. It would more fitting for us to say we know the Church is built upon the apostles, just as we know the United States of America was built on the work of the courage and work of the Founding Fathers. We believe in the apostolic Church because we put trust in what Jesus himself did in choosing them. In today’s Gospel we see that he prayed all night to the Father before calling Simon, Jude and the other ten apostles. To believe in the Church means to trust what Jesus did, to trust in his prayer, to trust in what God the Father revealed to him. It means to trust that Jesus knew what he was doing when he established his Church on the foundations of the apostles. It means more than merely believing in apostolic succession, the genealogy of holy orders of one bishop to another all the way back to Holy Thursday in the Upper Room. It means to believe in what God does through that succession of apostles, that this is God’s chosen way to make and keep us fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.
  • There’s another aspect to the apostolicity of the Church in which we believe. To profess that the Church is apostolic is to profess the Church as missionary. The word apostolos in Greek means “one who is sent.” The apostles were the ones chosen by Jesus from among the disciples to sent out to proclaim his kingdom, to proclaim Him. And we proclaim today in the Responsorial Psalm, “Their message goes out to all the earth.” That’s precisely what the apostles themselves did. They brought Christ and his Gospel to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus commanded in his valedictory  before his Ascension. There are so many ancient places who claimed that SS. Simon and Jude were the founders of their Church because, very likely, they traveled everywhere to bring the message of salvation Christ had entrusted to them.
  • But to believe in the apostolicity of the Church means not to profess something from the past — the Church was apostolic in her origins — but something very much present. The Church retains this mission. And not just through the successors of the apostles in terms of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but through all of us. Just as much as Jesus prayed all night and then called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Jude, and Judas Iscariot,” so he has prayed and called each of us. He pronounced our name at Baptism. We proclaimed ourselves present at our Confirmation as we received the same Holy Spirit they received at Pentecost. And Jesus wants us to be as faithful to proclaiming that message to all the earth as they were. He is praying for us just as he prayed for them. He seeks to work through us just as he worked through them. This may seem too much for us, impossible. But we recognize that in calling the first apostles, Jesus didn’t raid the rabbinical schools but the wharves. He chose a whole bunch of people without impressive resumés, who proved themselves capable of cooperating with God in the fulfillment of the mission. If we don’t think we’re capable, the St. Jude we celebrate today has been called the patron saint of hopeless causes, and so we entrust this cause to his intercession!
  • To believe in the apostolicity of the Church means not only to believe in the apostolic history of the Church or even Jesus’ working through the Sacrament of Holy Orders to guide us through time. It means that we believe that to be a Catholic we need to be an apostle and bring the Gospel to others. At the end of the Mass, after Jesus has taught us and fed us, he will recommission us: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” and God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will give us his blessing for this task. Christ is praying for us as he prayed for them as he calls and sends us forth anew. May we be as faithful to this our mission as SS. Simon and Jude were to theirs, so that one day we may enjoy their friendship as fellow citizens of heaven and members of the eternal household of God!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
EPH 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5a) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Gospel
LK 6:12-16

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.