.- Pope Benedict XVI greeted some 40,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s square today, speaking to them of the Apostles Simon and Jude. The Holy Father told the crowd of faithful that the two Apostles provide a witness to the unity that can be found in Jesus as well as the necessity of preserving the firm identity of the Christian faith.
Jude, the Pope said, is known sometimes simply as Thaddaeus which means, “magnanimous.” Benedict noted how St. Jude Thaddaeus asked Jesus at the last supper, “Master, (then) what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world (Jn 14:22)?" To this, the Holy Father said, Jesus gave an “indirect reply,” which “affirms a very important truth: the full manifestation of Jesus to His disciples is not exterior but interior, it is conditioned by the disciple's love."
The Pontiff also discussed the Letter of Jude, one of the Letters of the New Testament, which he said has as its principle theme, “to warn Christians from all those who use the grace of God as a pretext for their own dissoluteness and to mislead their brethren with unacceptable teachings, introducing divisions within the Church."
"Today, perhaps, we are no longer accustomed to using such polemical language which, though adopting beautiful poetic imagery, does not fail to state with great clarity both what is distinctive of Christianity and what is incompatible with it,” the Pope said.
“The path of tolerance and dialogue, taken by Vatican Council II, must certainly be continued with firmness and constancy,” Pope Benedict continued. “This must not, however, make us forget the duty to reconsider and highlight the irrefutable guidelines of our Christian identity." An identity which, he said is not merely cultural "but requires strength, clarity, and courage of conviction."
The Pope also discussed St. Simon the Cananean. Simon, the Holy Father noted, is also known as the Zealot. “It is highly possible," he said, "that this Simon, if he did not actually belong to the nationalist movement of the Zealots, was nonetheless characterized by his ardent zeal for the Jewish identity, hence for God, for His people and for the Divine Law.”
"If this was so," he added, "Simon was at the opposite extreme from Matthew who, as a tax collector, had practiced an activity universally considered as impure.”
This, the Pope said, “is an evident sign that Jesus calls His disciples and collaborators from the most diverse social and religious groups, without preclusion. He is interested in people, not in social categories and labels. ... All His followers, though different from one another, lived together, overcoming the understandable difficulties. Jesus Himself was, in fact, the cause of their cohesion."
We, on the other hand, are "often inclined to underline differences and contrasts, forgetting that in Jesus Christ we are given the strength to settle our conflicts," Benedict lamented.
“Therefore the Pope concluded, the two saints, “help us to constantly rediscover again and to live untiringly the beauty of the Christian faith, and to know how to give a strong and at the same time clear testimony.”