St. Jude, Intercession, and Sharing in God's Goodness

St. Jude and the Birthday Cake - is the oft-forgotten apostle a baker?

Recently, my mother decided to make and send me my favorite birthday cake. She was visiting my young nieces and nephews at the time, who aided in finding the recipe and preparing the cake. Now, my nieces and nephews are young enough that, I suspect, their assistance did not actually render the cake preparation more efficient. Why, then, would my mother allow her grandchildren to make her act of love less efficient and more time consuming? [1] There are, no doubt, several reasons for this, but one in particular helps illuminate God’s plan of salvation and His abundant generosity; it helps show why we rely on the powerful intercession of saints like St. Jude, patron of difficult and desperate cases.

One of the first things we must acknowledge in our spiritual lives is that God does not need us; God identifies Himself to Moses as “I AM,” (Ex 3:14) [2] as the One existing of Himself, without dependency on anything else. This is utterly unlike ourselves; we depend on other things for existence (e.g. our parents) and our powers are very limited (e.g. we die if we do not eat regularly). Likewise with everything else in the universe; the Sun has an enormous gravitational field, but that, too, has limits. This is not like God; God is completely self-sufficient, depending on nothing and no one, and His power is consequently unlimited. Jesus mentions this mystery of God’s omnipotence in the context of His suffering, which He certainly had the power to avoid: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt 26:53) Why, then, does it do any good to ask a human being for intercession, even the glorious Apostle St. Jude?

My mother did not need the help of my nieces and nephews; yet, by allowing them to help her, my nieces and nephews got to participate in the gift. They got to share an act of love through their grandmother’s generosity (and probably through her patience, too). And it made the gift more special to me!

So it is with our participation in God’s works; God does not need us, yet allows us to participate in accomplishing His works. One of the highest forms of this participation is the intercession of the saints. St. Jude was presumably somewhat unlearned and undistinguished when chosen by Jesus, and yet he will sit on one of “the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Mt 19:28) He was faithful unto his martyrdom, and now God has set him over much.

As we near the Feast of St. Jude, let us confidently turn to him with our difficult cases; many people have received miracles after prayer to St. Jude, and their testimonies are powerful. And let us always remember that, even if we do not receive the particular favor we ask, St. Jude will always obtain graces for us from God’s infinite love.

[1] I must acknowledge my gratitude to Fr. Thomas Aquinas Pickett, O.P., whose example illustrating grace and cooperation I saw concretized in this way.

[2] All Scripture quotations taken from the NRSV.

Br. Kevin Peter Cantu, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE