There are more statues of this man than anyone else at El Santuario de Chimayó in the small village of Chimayó in northern New Mexico. He outstrips St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Francis of Assisi and even Our Lady of Guadalupe and Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas, in whose honor the pilgrimage site was created many, many years ago. Who is this man? None other than the one we celebrate this day in Catholic tradition: St. Jude. The one we give the name “patron of hopeless causes.” One of the obscure apostles who has left obscurity behind in popular Catholic piety. No other “saint” garners as many novenas as does St. Jude!
I have a special affinity for this Gospel fellow since I grew up in the parish of St. Jude in Toledo many moons ago. Though the church was officially closed a number of years ago, I’d like to think the spirit of that lively Catholic community lives on in those of us who were so privileged to be a part of this dynamic parish. Fond memories of feast day celebrations rose up as I prayed this morning: dress up days in green and gold (our St. Jude colors), chrysanthemums on the altar in greens and golds, processions, novenas, green and yellow frosted cupcakes for the occasion. All the things children would remember! The halcyon days of youth.
And today? Perhaps we need St. Jude more than ever. Amidst government shutdowns, health care glitches of major proportions, wars raging across the globe, ever ongoing violence in our schools, vast environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, abortion, you-name-it … who is the saint for our times? Maybe amidst the growing rise of uncertainty and disillusionment we need a saint who can help us walk through the minefield of hopelessness and fear. Maybe St. Jude needs to be more than a saint for personal hopeless causes. Maybe we need to ask him to walk with us collectively and globally.
And just maybe … WE need to BECOME the “Saint Judes” and “Saint Judiths” of today. Maybe WE need to stand up in the face of fear and hopelessness, and as Christians offer a word of truth … encouragement … comfort to those in despair. Maybe WE need to BECOME charity and justice, the “two-feet-of-love-in-action” as the very remedy for hopelessness in our world.
Indeed … on this day and every day: Saint Jude, pray for us!