October 28 - These two Apostles have their feast on the same day because they worked together for the conversion of the Gentiles. Saint Simon, who was originally from Canaan, was given the nickname Canaanite, to distinguish him from Simon Peter. Saint Jude was the brother of Saint James the Minor and Saint Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem.
They were cousins of the Saviour. Before their elevation to the evangelical ministry, they were farmers. Saint Simon preached first in Egypt, Mauritania and Libya. Saint Jude, after preaching in Africa with great success, returned to the East and proclaimed the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Syria and Mesopotamia. Simon and Jude met in Persia, and there they fought and died together.
The extraordinary things that God did through their hands made them treated with respect by the king of that country, who gave them the freedom to preach their holy and new doctrine. A fact added to their prestige: two tigers escaped from their cages and were the terror of the country. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Apostles commanded these ferocious beasts to follow them, and they took them to their house. The king, his entire court and more than sixty thousand Persians became Christians. Churches were built on the ruins of the temples of idols; Christ's triumph was complete.
But the enemy of souls unleashed all his fury to stop the progress of the Gospel. When Simon and Jude went to proclaim Jesus Christ in other cities, the pagans wanted to force them to sacrifice to the sun, whom they worshipped as a god: "My brother," said Jude to Simon, "I see the Lord calling us.
- And I," said Simon, "have also seen Jesus Christ surrounded by His Angels, and one of the Angels said to me, 'I will bring you out of the temple and bring the whole building down upon them.
- I replied, "Let it not be so!" I replied, "Perhaps some of them will be converted.
And behold, at this very moment an Angel said to both of them, "What do you choose, either death for you, or the extermination of this unholy people?
- Mercy for this people!" cried the two Apostles. Let martyrdom be our portion!"
But the priests of the gods exhorted them to sacrifice: "The sun," said Simon, "is only the servant of God; it is the demons that dwell in your idols; I command them to come out." And the demons, in horrible form, came out in broken statues. Then the people threw themselves upon the two Apostles and slaughtered them, while they blessed God and prayed for their executioners.