According to tradition, Saints Simon and Jude worked as a team preaching the Gospel in Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, where they were eventually martyred. Not much more than that is known, and even this much is not historically certain. So why do we honour these virtual strangers as saints?
Well, they were friends and collaborators of Our Lord. They lived with him, day in, day out for three years. They learned by his example how to live, how to love, and how to forgive. Then, after Pentecost, they had an important role to play in the beginning the Church.
But what about proof of their holiness? Well, we can look at some of the more well-known Apostles and ask the very same thing. Peter denied Jesus three times; James and John wanted to destroy a town that had rejected him. The best evidence for recognizing the sainthood of Simon and Jude—and anyone, for that matter—is that anyone who has a relationship with Our Lord grows in holiness. It’s a simple equation: the more time we spend with Jesus, the more saintly we become—even if no one else is around to see it.
Now of course, this means that we are all candidates for sainthood. It’s not, so much, about performing heroic deeds for God. It’s more about the relationship.
And we don’t need to have a high profile either. All we need is to be faithful to our relationship with Our Lord and what he has asked us to do. And we need to remember it’s the silent and secret acts of love which are precious to him.
It’s entirely possible that in heaven we will discover that God has given the highest place to saints whose names nobody knows. Maybe we’ll be surprised by some of the people we find in the company of the Apostles: average people, everyday people who never founded a religious order, or wore a pointy hat, or suffered martyrdom, or converted thousands. All they did was love Jesus and try their best to follow him; and that’s all any of us ever needs to do.
Saints Simon and Jude, pray for us.