Our reflection below has been written by Deacon Hugh Parry. Hugh is a deacon in Bournemouth, Dorset and originally wrote these reflections for a separate initiative at the Shrine. We are very grateful to him for letting us publish it more widely.
Jesus Christ chose His twelve apostles. Whatever our role in pursuing our own faith, we are doing it because we are chosen by God and like Saint Jude Thaddeus, we have chosen to say yes. The great example of saying yes was given to us by Our Lady who could herself have said no at the Annunciation of Our Lord.
There are many ways in which we can pursue our faith. Among them are Holy Orders, the Religious Life, Marriage or a life devoted to prayer.
Whatever path God chooses for us, our choice must be always to fulfil it to the best of our ability.
The calling we all receive is to serve, as it was for the twelve and the subsequent seven.
• What is my role in the service of God?
• How am I following in the footsteps of Saint Jude and the eleven other Apostles in serving God?
• Am I fulfilling my calling in the way God wanted when he called me?
Saint Jude Thaddeus is less well-known than many of the other apostles, but we do know that like the others, he was chosen by Jesus Christ.
Saint Jude was chosen to go out and proclaim the Good News. He was not chosen because of his perfection; he had his failings, but he was chosen because he was a work in progress - as are we all.
At the end of each Mass, the Priest or Deacon utters the dismissal. One of the four versions of the dismissal is “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” This confirms our duty as a follower of Christ to spread the Good News.
• How do I proclaim the Gospel of the Lord in my daily life?
• Is it obvious from the way I live my life and love my fellows, or do I have to tell people?
“..the number of the disciples was greatly increasing. ..The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It’s not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. Therefore brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom’.....they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus...” Acts 6:1-6
The seven chosen by the disciples and approved by the apostles were not chosen to spread the word of God, but rather to support those who were. The apostles were trying to preach and pray, but as more people arrived, the Hellenists were concerned that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food as compared to the Hebrew widows.
The people chose Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” and six others. He quickly impressed everyone with his work, although there were murmurings from some who accused Stephen of blasphemy.
• Do I consider myself “full of the spirit” and can I see myself in the role of Stephen and his colleagues? If not, why not?
Stephen, as we know, was the first Christian martyred for his faith. His stoning was conducted in the presence of Saul who, it is said, “was consenting to his death.” Despite the pain he would have suffered, at no time did Stephen condemn his accusers. Instead, he prayed “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Shortly afterwards, he cried in a loud voice: “Lord, do not hold their sin against them,” whereupon, he “fell asleep.”
Saul continued his persecution after this event until, on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” As we know, the transformation from Saul to Paul saw a dramatic change of direction with Saint Paul becoming as powerful an advocate for Jesus as he had been a persecutor before.
• Could I submit to torture and death as did Stephen to protect my faith?
• Are there times in my life when I have stood there and watched while others are persecuted rather than remembering my call to be a servant of God?
Let us pray:
Saint Jude Thaddeus, servant of God, you were one of the twelve called by Our Lord Jesus Christ to spread His Word. As one of the twelve, when the disciples were increasing in number so rapidly, you approved the appointment of seven men “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” to assist in your work. (Acts 6:1-7)
We ask that you walk with us as we fulfil whatever task God asks of us. Help us to follow in the footsteps of the twelve and then the seven, while understanding that no task is too arduous or humble when it is carried out for the Glory of God.
Thanks to Deacon Hugh Parry for letting us share.