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For a large part of the liturgical year, we devote ourselves to listening to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects unfolded as we seek God's truth and understanding.
Simon, Apostle and Martyr, 1st Century
Perhaps the least known of the Apostles, Simon is only mentioned in the lists contained in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all refer to this saint as “Simon the Zealot.” This has caused some scholars to link him with the Zealot faction, a radical first-century revolutionary organization which sought to eliminate Roman rule by terrorism. It is entirely possible that, in his younger days, Simon had been a member of this group, but its philosophy would hardly fit with the Christian principles which the Apostles were learning and teaching. Equally possible, Simon could have earned his nickname by his dedication and zealous support of Jesus Christ.
Simon is said to have been among the first of the Apostles to carry the Word to distant lands. He might well have been among the seventy-two who were sent ahead by Jesus to preach in the towns where Jesus would stop on his final journey to Jerusalem (Lk 10). If this were the case, Simon would have been one of the Apostles with some experience in teaching when the Apostles begin their own ministries.
Since he received no mention in the Acts of the Apostles which largely concentrated on the activities of the Apostles around Jerusalem and the eastern Mediterranean, Simon may have begun his missionary work among the Jews of Egypt. He may then have worked his way westward through Libya and into present-day Tunisia. There is some evidence that Simon then took the Word to Britain where Christianity seems to have been introduced before the Romans established the island as a colony in the year 43.
Tradition tells us that Simon joined Jude Thaddeus in Persia around the year 66. Together, these two saints converted thousands to Christianity over the next several years, but they also made powerful enemies. The pagan leaders in that region finally mustered a mob to stone the two Apostles to death. It is told that when the mob approached the two old men, Jude turned to Simon and said, “The Lord is calling us.”
A feast honors this saint along with his companion, St. Jude, on October 28.
Simon's message today: Whatever the origin of Simon’s nickname, we can believe that he was ardent in his preaching the Word of God. This passion carried him from almost one end of the known world to the other. While we are not asked to travel to the ends of the earth preaching the Word of God, we can set an example of Christian living for all of those with whom we come in contact.