Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Jude, Apostle
See Tillemont, t. 1. Jos. Assemani, ad 19 Junij, t. 6. p. 453. Falconius, ib. p. 105. Calmet, t. 9.
THE APOSTLE St. Jude is distinguished from the Iscariot by the surname of Thaddæus, which signifies in Syriac, praising or confession, (being of the same import with the Hebrew word Judas,) also by that of Lebbæus, which is given him in the Greek text of St. Matthew; that word signifying, according to St. Jerom, a man of wit and understanding, from the Hebrew word Leb, a heart; though it might equally be derived from the Hebrew word, which signifies a Lion. St. Jude was brother to St. James the Less, as he styles himself in his epistle; likewise of St. Simeon of Jerusalem, and of one Joses,1 who are styled the brethren of our Lord, and were sons of Cleophas, and Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. This apostles kindred and relation to our Saviour exalted him not so much in his masters eyes as his contempt of the world, the ardour of his holy zeal and love, and his sufferings for his sake. It is not known when and by what means he became a disciple of Christ; nothing having been said of him in the gospels before we find him enumerated in the catalogue of the apostles. After the last supper, when Christ promised to manifest himself to every one who should love him, St. Jude asked him, why he did not manifest himself to the world? By which question, he seems to have expressed his expectation of a secular kingdom of the Messias. Christ by his answer satisfied him, that the world is unqualified for divine manifestations, being a stranger and an enemy to what must fit souls for a fellowship with heaven; but that he would honour those who truly love him with his familiar converse, and would admit them to intimate communications of grace and favour.2
After our Lords ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost, St. Jude set out with the other great conquerors of the world and hell, to pull down the prince of darkness from his usurped throne; which this little troop undertook to effect armed only with the word of God, and his spirit. Eusebius relates,3 that the apostle St. Thomas sent St. Thaddæus, one of the disciples of our Lord, to Edessa, and that king Abgar and a great number of his people received baptism at his hands. St. Jerom and Bede take this Thaddæus to have been the apostle St. Jude: but it is the general opinion that it was another person, one of the seventy-two disciples whom the Greeks commemorate in the Menæa on the 21st of August.4 Nicephorus, Isidore, and the Martyrologies tell us, that St. Jude preached up and down Judæa, Samaria, Idumæa, and Syria; especially in Mesopotamia. St. Paulinus says,5 that St. Jude planted the faith in Lybia. This apostle returned from his missions to Jerusalem in the year 62, after the martyrdom of his brother, St. James, and assisted at the election of St. Simeon who was likewise his brother.6 He wrote a catholic or general epistle to all the churches of the East, particularly addressing himself to the Jewish converts, amongst whom he had principally laboured. St. Peter had written to the same two epistles before this, and in the second, had chiefly in view to caution the faithful against the errors of the Simonians, Nicholaits, and Gnostics. The havoc which these heresies continued to make among souls stirred up the zeal of St. Jude, who sometimes copied certain expressions of St. Peter,7 and seems to refer to the epistles of SS. Peter and Paul as if the authors were then no more.8 The heretics he describes by many strong epithets and similes, and calls them wandering meteors which seem to blaze for a while, but set in eternal darkness. The source of their fall he points out by saying, they are murmurers, and walk after their own lusts; for being enslaved to pride, envy, the love of sensual pleasure, and other passions, and neglecting to crucify the desires of the flesh in their hearts, they were strangers to sincere humility, meekness, and interior peace. The apostle exhorts the faithful to treat those who were fallen with tender compassion, making a difference between downright malice and weakness, and endeavouring by holy fear to save them, by plucking them as brands out of the fire of vice and heresy, and hating the very garment that is spotted with iniquity. He puts us in mind to have always before our eyes the great obligation we lie under of incessantly building up our spiritual edifice of charity, by praying in the Holy Ghost, growing in the love of God, and imploring his mercy through Christ.9 From Mesopotamia St. Jude travelled into Persia, as Fortunatus10 and several Martyrologies tell us. Those who say, that he died in peace at Berytus, in Phenicia, confound him with Thaddæus, one of the seventy-two disciples, and the apostle of Edessa, of whom the Menæa gives that account.11 Fortunatus and the western Martyrologists tell us, that the apostle St. Jude suffered martyrdom in Persia; the Menology of the emperor Basil, and some other Greeks say at Arat or Ararat, in Armenia, which at that time was subject to the Parthian empire, and consequently esteemed part of Persia. Many Greeks say he was shot to death with arrows: some add whilst he was tied on a cross. The Armenians at this day challenge him and St. Bartholomew for the first planters of the faith among them.12
We owe to God a homage of eternal praise and thanks for the infinite mercy by which he has established a Church on earth, and a Church so richly furnished with every powerful means of sanctity and grace; a Church in which his name is always glorified, and many souls, both by the purity of their love and virtue, and by their holy functions, are associated to the company of the blessed angels. It ought also to be our first and constant petition in our most earnest addresses to God, as we learn from our Lords prayer, and as the first dictates of divine charity and religion teach us, that for the glory of his holy name he vouchsafe to protect and preserve his Church, according to his divine word; to extend its pale, to sanctify its members, and to fill its pastors with the same spirit with which he so wonderfully enriched his apostles, whom he was pleased to choose for the foundation of this sacred edifice. If we desire to inherit a share of those abundant and precious graces which God pours forth upon those souls which he disposes to receive them, we must remember that he never imparts them but to those who sincerely study to die to themselves, and to extirpate all inordinate attachments and affections out of their hearts; so long as any of these reign in a soul, she is one of that world to which God cannot manifest himself, or communicate the sweet relish of his love. This is the mystery which Christ unfolded to St. Jude. The world hath not known him. Few even among those who know God by faith, attain to the experimental knowledge of God, and the relish of his love, because few, very few, disentangle their affection from creatures. So long as their hearts remain secretly wedded to the world, they fall in some degree under its curse. And how few study perfectly to extinguish its spirit in their hearts!
Note 9. Luther, the Century writers, and Kemnitius call in question the divine authority of this epistle, because several ancients doubted of it: and Grotius fancies it to have been written by Jude, the fifteenth bishop of Jerusalem, in the reign of Adrian. The tradition of the church makes its divine authority and original unquestionable in the Catholic church. The learned Dr. Edward Pocock, who died at Oxford, in 1691, and whose name is famous for his skill in the Oriental languages and literature, has displayed his talents in several translations and disquisitions, and in comments on Micheas, Malachy, Osee, and Joel. But, among all his works, that on the epistle of St. Jude, printed at Leyden, in 1630, is esteemed the most curious. [back]
Note 12. See Joachim Schroder, in Thesaur. Linguæ Armeni., p. 149, edit. an. 1711, Le Quien, Orient. Christian., t. 1, p. 419.
St. Jude was a married man before he was called to the apostleship. Eusebius informs us, (l. 3, c. 20,) that two grandsons of this apostle, who were possessed jointly of thirty-nine acres of land, which they tilled with their own hands, were accused by the Jews out of hatred to the name of Christ, as descendants from King David, when Domitian had ordered all such to be put to death, to prevent rebellions among the Jews. They boldly confessed Christ, but the emperor, charmed with their simplicity, and seeing by their low condition, and their hands, callous and rough with labour, that they were not persons any way dangerous to the state, dismissed them. Returning home, they were promoted to the priesthood, and governed considerable churches. That St. Jude was himself a husbandman before he was called to the apostleship, we are assured by the Apostolic Constitutions, l. 2, c. 63, p. 303. [back]