Contending for the faith – Saints Simon and Jude. October 28

Saints Simon and Jude.

Today I celebrated Saints Simon and Jude at our daily service. I know the epistle was meant to be from Ephesians but I substituted portions of Jude. What a joy it was to read and to be reassured by his words. I was hugely encouraged by his admonition to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
It seems to me that this states plainly the challenge before me. I am sometimes asked, “Why bother?” Just be a parish priest who pastors his flock. Part of this is the ordination vow taken in 1976 “will you be ready with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word?” That vow is a direct application of Jude’s exhortation.
The Gospel reading for today was John 15:17ff. The reading ends “the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, the will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
The epistle set was from Ephesians 2:13-22 and concludes with these words, “you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”
What does it mean to be the household of faith? What does it mean to be hated without cause and yet to bear witness to Jesus?
Jesus and St. Paul as much as St Jude knew what would happen. What would happen not simply in the interface of Church and world but would infect the Church. Jesus and Paul talk of “wolves”
Matt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matt. 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Luke 10:3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;

As I read Jude I was impressed not so much by the list of offences but by the description (vs. 17) of these people as “devoid of the Spirit.” One of the hallmarks of our current situation is that we are constantly told that these innovations that promote immorality are from the Holy Spirit. Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Jude talks in verse 10 of their blasphemies.
The end of Jude is a lesson in how to be graceful. “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Are these not words to live by? This morning at the altar I again committed myself to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

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