28 October 2010

Homily upon the Day of Sts. Simon and Jude

[John 15:17-21]

Over against the love into which Christ has brought His apostles stands the hatred of the world. “These things I command you, so that you will love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” In point of fact, it is Christ Himself whom the world hates in His apostles and in those who abide in Christ’s love.

Our Lord makes clear that His fate will be theirs. Simon and Jude heard that night from His own blessed lips that what they were about to see happen to Him would be replayed over again in their lives. “Because they do not know Him who sent me.”

But it was that conviction that what happened to the Lord was indeed what would happen to them that set them free and opened their mouths with a witness that none could silence. For what happened to their Master was that after suffering, after dying, after lying in the three-day tomb, He was raised in incorruption, His body filled to the brim with a life that could never be taken from Him ever again.

When you know the end of the story, when you’ve peeked ahead to see how it ends, it changes the terror you might feel in the middle of the action. Simon and Jude went hither and yon and saw some big time action. Tradition says they finally travelled together to Persia where they met a not very nice end. Simon sawn asunder and Jude battered with battleax.

They had gone forward with only a message of incredible love: that the Creator of this world was not content to see it ruined, to see death reign, to see his creature destroying themselves in their sin, and so He did something about it. Came among us and lived among us the way of love – which will not use power coercively. Came among us to live a life so full of love that death itself couldn’t hold Him down. Came among us to give us a share in His own unending life. “He died for you! He loves you!” proclaimed Simon and Jude. Even as they died for Him. Their blood preached the same love!

They could die so cheerfully with the end of the story known. They’d seen Him, remember. They were there when Thomas reached the trembling finger into the gaping side. They saw Him on the other side of death munching on fish. He showed them in so many ways that He was truly victor over death and the grave, and when His Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, they were there, and they began the miracle of speaking the mighty deeds of God in tongues they’d never learned. So they went out as witnesses to a joy that was bigger than all the sadness of this world, a righteousness stronger than all the injustices and wrongs, a peace more solid and lasting than any heart-ache of this world. They knew themselves forgiven and they knew themselves in Christ to have a life that could not finally be taken from them. So love filled them to the brim, even as they died martyrs, witnesses to Christ’s victory.

He would have use of you as He had use of them. So He gives into you His crucified, risen, glorified body and blood – so that you who have been baptized into Him, might be witnesses to His forgiveness and the gift of His life, that your lives might be filled – as were Simon and Jude’s – with His divine love. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good and then go forth to invite the world to magnify the Lord with you, so that all may exalt His name together - with Sts. Simon and Jude and all His apostles and the whole Church. Amen.

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