I don’t know a lot about Simon and Jude, but then nobody does. They seem to be the forgotten apostles, so forgotten that they have to share a feast day rather than each getting one of his own. The justification for “sharing” is that tradition asserts they served as a ministry team during their lives and were martyred together in Beruit or Persia. The truth is that in death they’re lumped together as they always were as in life: the almost end of the Apolostic roll call, one position ahead of Judas Iscariot.
Jude doesn’t even get a clear designation in all of the roll calls. In some, his position is taken by a Thaddeus. This has caused some scholars to say they are one in the same; and other to say not. Perhaps this confusion is why Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. He’s hoping someone will figure out who he was.
Or perhaps it’s because how the Lord answered his question for no one who loves Christ will be lost for Christ will dwell within him.
Simon makes it onto all the roll calls, but that’s all Simon does in the Bible. He’s not mentioned in any other context. He does and says nothing. As a result of this meager fodder, a lot of speculation has gone into his appellation “Zealot.” Some assert the designation indicates that he was a member of the Zealot party, which was dedicated to ending Rome’s occupation of Judea. Others argue the appellation references Simon’s pursuit of, his zeal for, the Law. I rather like both thoughts. The one so zealous for an earthly kingdom found instead a heavenly one; the one so zealous for the Law followed the fulfillment of the Law to become zealous for Grace.
I also like that we know little about Jude and Simon apart from their being apostles. We know from that designation alone that Jesus loved them. They were men after his heart. He chose them to be his representatives in the world, and they surely were. After all, Christ promised Jude that he and the Father would come within in anyone who loved him. And that indwelling allowed Jude and Simon to lead lives of faithfulness and service beyond martyrdom even unto being almost forgotten. They are the Dorothea Brookes of the Apostles:
[Their] full natures, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent [themselves] in channels which had no great name on the earth.But the effect of [their] being on those around [them] was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.*
Is it not so with most of us? Let Him into your heart then you can start to make it better.
(*Yes, Rome claims the remains of Jude are in St. Peter’s and hence they are remarkably well-visted, but several other places make similar claims. So let’s not get into the relic wars with Jude, and even the Catholic Encyclopedia, always well up for a requilary ruck, admits no one knows where Simon was buried.)
Traditionally the Feast of Simon and Jude was the date when people started gathering ingredient for their soul cakes. This is most sensible. No every day can be a baking day. There have to be some days of preparation. So start cornering the market on flour, but if you really need a baked good to tide you through why not a venn pieagram to celebrate the forever-joined saints of Simon and Jude?