Let’s play a game. The game is, “Name that saint?”
I’m thinking of a saint that is not mentioned by name in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, but he is an apostle.
He may be the most prayed to apostle for intercessory prayer today. He’s often depicted with a staff in his right hand, a flame hovering over his head, and an icon of Jesus in his left hand. He is also the patron saint of the impossible.
What’s the name of this saint? ST. JUDE!
My brothers in sisters in Christ, although St. Jude Thaddeus, not Judas Iscariot, is not mentioned by name in the Acts of the Apostles, we can still learn a lot about what it means to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
In today’s first reading, the Sanhedrin describes Peter and John as “ordinary and uneducated men.” If so, what is the difference, because they are not speaking like ordinary, uneducated men. The difference is that they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Confirmation we receive the Holy Spirit completely and fully, and are given those seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
These apostles were strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We need to pray regularly that those gifts do not remain dormant within us, but that we will use the opportunities that God gives us to manifest the spirit to others.
The Sanhedrin warns Peter and John sternly to never again preach in that name.
What’s the power of a name?
In paragraph 2159 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the name one receives particularly at Baptism, is one’s name for eternity. The name is an icon of the person.
This is why parents should choose wisely the names of their children. Ordinarily, the church recommends the names of saints.
Names also represent a certain authority. Peter’s name literally means rock, referring to the foundation of the Church, our first pope. John means God is gracious. Our patron, Michael, means who is like God.
The apostles are able to perform great miracles though through the name of Jesus.
When we look at the four marks of the church, we are reminded that we are one in unity, holy, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, Catholic, meaning universal, all are invited, and apostolic, built on the foundation of the apostles.
We know that the apostles would eventually travel great distances to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, or the Gospel message.
Let’s look again at the popular image of St. Jude:
Flame: The Holy Spirit? Are we filled with the Holy Spirit?
Icon: Do we witness to Christ at all times?
Staff: Do we bring Christ with us, enlightened by the Holy Spirit wherever we go?
Impossible things can happen with God’s help. For as you know, God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.
And don’t ever forget how contagious your Christian witness can be. The Sanhedrin feared this massive following that the apostles received. Ultimately, the people were not following them, but Jesus Christ Himself, manifested in the Holy Spirit within each one of them.
Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains, we could do the impossible.
Not because of our own merit, but because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us. God’s grace is a powerful thing.
Let’s pray today for an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that like the apostles, we too can become living icons of Christ in a world.
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