By: Joanna Mason
The apostles are good friends to have, and if you look at your life through the lens of daily prayer, you’ll see that certain saints and apostles want to be your particular friends. The apostles make special friends for us, stealing their way into our affections through the gospel itself. St. Peter might seem like a pal to you if you struggle with trusting that the Lord has great plans for you despite your many failures; St. Matthew may want to be your friend if, like him, you have to turn away from a rough past; or maybe St. John is asking you to come with him to rest your head on the Lord’s heart. The apostles are real and alive, and want to walk with us on our journey to Heaven.
In this month of October, we celebrate the feast of St. Jude, one of the apostles of the Lord. Jude is the patron saint of “impossible cases.” There’s an interesting story behind his patronage. Jude really has the same name as another of the chosen apostles: Judas. Because of this confusion, Jude was rather ignored as an intercessor- after all, who could pray to a Judas? Eventually, though, someone had a grand idea. He had a big problem in his life, a problem that seemed unsolvable, impossible. He wondered, to which of the saints can I entrust this giant problem? Who will intercede without fail? And he thought of Jude. Why? Because he figured that no one ever prayed to Jude, so he must have lots of time on his hands. Probably he was up in Heaven twiddling his thumbs without enough to do. So why not give him the impossible cases to pray for?
Funny as the beginnings of Jude’s intercession for the impossible are, there is something deeper going on here. Think for a bit about the other Judas. Judas the betrayer handed Jesus over to be crucified, and promptly lost hope. Forgiveness was impossible. Redemption was impossible. Life after such a choice was impossible. Judas felt that he had singlehanded ruined the plan of redemption. So, trusting only in his human vision of the events of his life and his actions, he despaired and ended his life.
St. Jude saw the same events, the same impossibilities. Yet he also saw His Lord raised from the dead, and death itself smashed. He saw that what looked like the death of the Messiah and ruin of the redemption of man turned out to be the most beautiful sign of love and life-giving event possible. And how did that happen? It was impossible. St. Jude watched the impossible become a beautiful reality.
It’s no accident that Jude, as the patron saint of the impossible, has the same name as Judas. God asks us to never give up hope, no matter how black events look in the world. He asks us to trust His plans, even when we see the betrayer before us, or worse, when we are the betrayer; or even when we see long ignored tensions come crashing down in our family lives; even in moments when we feel abandoned by the Father. Even through all this, we must remember that God brought eternal life out of death itself, and he continues to do so today. St. Jude wants us to bring him our intentions and to remember the other Judas, so that we might never make the mistake Judas made. When we watch God Himself die, we must trust that eternal resurrection is about to begin. Jude saw it with his own eyes. So always live in the hope of the resurrection, trusting that NOTHING is impossible with God.