St. Jude Virtual Novena
Day One: St. Jude, Powerful Healer
St. Jude undoubtedly traveled with Jesus from village to village and witnessed Jesus' healing power. He may have seen his master cure the ten lepers, heal the woman suffering from hemorrhages and raise the dead to life. To the blind beggar who cried out, "Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!" he may have heard Jesus answer, "Receive your sight. Your faith has made you well." (Luke 18:39-43)
St. Jude was one of the disciples to whom Jesus "gave power and authority...to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick." (Luke 9:1-2) He sent them out two by two, and to their amazement, "They drove out many demons, and rubbed oil on the sick and healed them." (Mark 6:13)
We may doubt that God wants what is best for us. We sometimes mistakenly think all suffering and sickness is punishment for sin. We forget how Jesus worked tirelessly to heal the infirm. When Jesus cured the man born blind, he explained, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:3)
St. Jude understood the Lord's desire to make people whole. After Jesus' ascension, St. Jude and the other apostles preached everywhere, and "the Lord worked through them and proved that their preaching was true by the miracles that were performed." (Mark 16:18) Jesus' words at the Last Supper were fulfilled in St. Jude, "Whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself and will perform even greater works." (John 14:12)
St. Jude, you witnessed the healing power of our Lord Jesus. You saw his compassion for the sick and dying. You yourself touched the sick, shared the sorrows of the mournful, and encouraged the despairing. You received this authority and healing power to work wonders, to cure the incurable, to make people whole. We ask you to intercede with our brother, Jesus, to send his saving grace to heal the sick and suffering, to uplift their despondent spirits, and to instill hope in their hearts.
Commitment I promise that in some way I will bring the good news of God's love to someone who is sick or infirm.
Day Two: St. Jude, Apostle of Prayer
Jesus taught St. Jude how to pray with a faith that could move mountains. His prayer was inspired by Jesus' words: "Ask and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Luke 11:9-10)
We sometimes think that God has abandoned us, or that our prayers have fallen on deaf ears. St. Jude prayed with the confidence instilled by Jesus' teaching: "Look how the wild flowers grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. How much more will God look after you? Don't worry... Your Father knows what you need. Instead, set your hearts on God's kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well." (Luke 12:22-31)
Although we do not totally understand God's ways, we confidently place ourselves in God's hands, as Jesus himself did. St. Jude was with Jesus the night he prayed in the Garden. There, in agony, Jesus taught us how to pray: "Father, if it be possible, take this cup of suffering from me. Yet, not my will but yours be done." (Matthew 26:39)
When we are insistent and confident in prayer, we also allow our prayer to transform our lives. We open our hearts to God's spirit, willingly accept the challenges God allows us and generously recommit ourselves to imitate Jesus. St. Jude understood the Lord's words, "It is not those who say to me 'Lord, Lord' who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father." (Matthew 7:21)
St. Jude, through prayer you praised God for the wonderful works of Jesus. You asked God for the strength to meet the challenges of your apostolate. You put your trust in God's mercy, believing firmly that God loved you and understood your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, and your triumphs and failures. You understood that nothing is impossible for God. We ask you to pray for us now before the Most High so that we too might be filled with God's saving power, understand God's will for us and faithfully place ourselves in God's loving hands. Amen.
I recommit myself to pray daily with greater confidence and faith that God's will be done in me.
Day Three: St. Jude, Suffering Christian
Like the other apostles, St. Jude suffered a martyr's death because he was committed to carry out the mission of our Lord. He accepted Jesus' challenge, "If any want to follow me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
In the midst of his difficulties St. Jude trusted the Lord, who said, "Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
St. Jude undoubtedly understood that his sufferings were joined to those of Jesus and therefore were also redemptive. St. Paul declared, "I am happy to suffer for you, for by means of my sufferings, I help complete what still remains of Christ's sufferings on behalf of his body, the church." (Colossians 1:24)
St. Jude was human. He felt pain as we do. But he remembered the suffering of Jesus, his sense of abandonment on the cross, when he cried out "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46) These memories helped St. Jude endure his pain because he knew he suffered in union with the Lord.
In our sufferings we reflect on those of our Savior, Jesus. He was spit upon, beaten, and nailed to the cross where he hung in agony for three hours. Perhaps the most painful suffering that pierced his heart was the rejection by the people's leaders and the abandonment by his friends. Nevertheless, Jesus was faithful until the end when he cried out, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46)
St. Jude, you remained faithful to our Lord, even unto death. You gave your life so that others might live. You endured physical pain and emotional abandonment. But you gladly joined your sufferings to those of our Savior, Jesus, and thus shared in the redemption of the world. We ask you now to intercede with our brother, Jesus Christ, so that we too might be faithful in the face of our suffering. Help us to trust in God and put our life in his hands. Amen.
I will join all my sufferings to those of Jesus for the redemption of the world, and I will encourage someone who is suffering.
Day Four: St. Jude, Champion of Justice & Peace
Like the other apostles, St. Jude learned to struggle for justice and peace by accompanying Jesus and listening to his teaching. He heard the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus taught, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.... Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward awaits you in heaven." (Matthew 5: 9, 11-12)
St. Jude wrote in his letter, "I encourage you to fight on for the faith which once and for all God has given to people." (Jude 1:3) St. Jude struggled for all that Jesus worked to establish. As did Jesus, he preached the Good News to the poor, proclaimed liberty to captives, restored sight to the blind, and set free the oppressed. (Luke 4: 18)
We sometimes resist the Lord's challenge to work for God's reign of justice and peace. We fear criticism and conflict; we seek comfort and convenience. Not St. Jude! He fought non-violently for peace through reconciliation and compassion, and understood that without justice there is no true peace.
For his commitment to the reign of justice and peace, St. Jude suffered, just as Jesus had predicted, "You will be hated on account of my name." (Matthew 10:22) Nevertheless, he enjoyed the peace promised by the Lord at the Last Supper when he said: "Peace I give to you, my own peace I leave you; a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you." (John 14:27)
St. Jude, you courageously preached the Word of God in the most difficult situations. Like Jesus, you defended the poor and oppressed and challenged the rich and powerful. When threatened with death, you did not resort to violence or despair but recalled Jesus' words of peace and forgiveness. Hear our prayer, today, for peace and justice in our world. Ask the Lord to give us the courage to stand up for what is right. Pray that we be effective peacemakers like you, especially in the world where there is war and oppression, in our communities where there is violence and strife, and in our families where there is conflict and tension. Amen.
I promise to act against some injustice and take some action that will restore peace somewhere in the world.
Day Five: St. Jude, Servant of God's People
St. Jude was privileged to accompany Jesus nearly every day. He learned from the Lord how God loves us and how we must love one another.
At times we may want others to serve us, to do our bidding and to attend to our needs. Sometimes we compete with others in order to be first or the best. Like St. Jude, we need to learn from Jesus. "Anyone who wants to be great, must be the servant of the rest, and anyone who wants to be first, must be the slave of all, like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many." (Matthew 20:26-28)
At the Last Supper Jesus showed St. Jude and the other apostles how they were to serve. He washed their feet and then said, "I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you." (John 13:15)
St. Jude did not look for a reward for doing good for others. Rather, he lived what Jesus taught, "When you have done all you have been told to do, say, 'We are merely servants; we have done no more than our duty.'" (Luke 17:10)
St. Jude fulfilled the greatest commandments identified by Jesus: to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-40) Jesus wants us to love like this, just as he does: "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you do love one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples." (John 13:34-35)
St. Jude, although you were chosen by Jesus as one of the twelve apostles, you learned not to be proud, not to pursue honors or the highest places. Instead, you humbled yourself in the service of your sisters and brothers. We pray that you help us to serve with a more generous heart, to sacrifice our own interest for the good of others. Intercede for us with our crucified Christ, who humbled himself on the cross, who sacrificed his life that we might live. May we imitate him by a life of dedicated, selfless service to others. Amen.
I will do some service for those who need it most or expect it least.
Day Six: St. Jude, Compassionate Reconciler
St. Jude was a human being like all of us, and forgiveness did not come easily to him. He learned how to forgive others from the Master, our Lord, Jesus. He probably was shocked to hear Jesus say, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:44, 48) But that is just what he did, and so must we.
Jesus extended his mercy and forgiveness to sinners and even to those who attacked him. Even when he was dying on the cross, Jesus forgave his executioners, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
Like Paul, St. Jude preached that we should not let the sun go down upon our anger. (Ephesians 4:26) If we have anything against anyone, we must first reconcile with that person before presenting our gift at the altar. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Can we really forgive those who have offended us? And how many times can we forgive? When Peter asked Jesus that question, St. Jude probably heard about Jesus' answer: "Not seven times seven, but seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:22)
When teaching St. Jude and the other apostles how to pray, Jesus explained, "If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14) For this reason we ask for the strength to forgive those who have offended us as we pray the words Jesus taught us, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
St. Jude, apostle of mercy and reconciliation, help us to forgive one another. You understand the depth of God's compassion and our hesitancy to forgive. You learned how to be merciful from Jesus, the Son of God. He taught you how to forgive those who persecuted you and put you to death. Intercede for us now before our compassionate God that we might forgive those who have offended us. Help us to remove every trace of hatred, bitterness or revenge from our hearts. May we have the strength to forgive as God forgives. Amen.
I will forgive someone who has offended me and try to reconcile myself with that person.
Day Seven: St. Jude, Preacher of the Good News of God's Reign
Jesus trained St. Jude and sent him and others to outlying villages to preach the Good News and work for the Kingdom of God. After Jesus ascended into heaven, St. Jude continued the Lord's work and followed his command, "Go, therefore; make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I have given you. And know that I am with you always, even, to the end of time." (Matthew 28:19-20)
We sometimes think that we are not called or sent; mistakenly we think we have nothing to offer to the world or that we lack sufficient knowledge or power to change anything. We forget that through baptism we were commissioned just like St. Jude, "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world.... Your light must shine before all, so that, seeing your good works, they may praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16) Jesus warned us not to hide our light under a basket.
St. Jude knew how to bring the Good News of Jesus to others. He learned from the Lord that whenever we give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick or imprisoned, we befriend Jesus himself. (Matthew 25:31-46)
St. Jude courageously announced the Good News of God's love and energetically preached the coming of God's reign of justice, peace, and love wherever he went. He remembered Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "In the world you will have trouble, but be brave; I have conquered the world." (John 16:33)
St. Jude, you left home and traveled afar in order to bring the Good News of God's love to all the nations. You preached enthusiastically about what you learned personally from the words and works of our Lord, Jesus. You courageously faced criticism, rejection and eventually martyrdom. Ask the Lord to send us his Spirit so that we might be faithful messengers of God's love, forgiveness and justice to our selfish, violent and unjust world. Help us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world by the loving and compassionate way we speak to and treat one another. Amen.
I will act on my faith and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ by word, deed and example to someone.
Day Eight: St. Jude, Advocate of Difficult Cases
St. Jude was not only a follower of Jesus but probably his cousin and friend as well. His close relationship to Jesus not only changed his life but made him a powerful advocate on our behalf. From Jesus he learned about God's boundless compassion and infinite power. He learned not to doubt God's wisdom but to confidently trust divine mercy.
St. Jude understood how we all desire to be close to Jesus, to be his friend, to feel the warmth of his love and to experience his healing power. St. Jude heard the Lord say, "I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and the Father will give you anything you ask in my name." (John 15:15-16)
At times we despair of God's love for us or at least doubt that God hears our prayer. We question: "Why has this happened to me? Where is the Lord when I need him?"
We come to St. Jude because we believe he is a man of faith and understands that nothing is impossible for God. He believed what Jesus had told him at the Last Supper, "If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:14) He heard Jesus say, "...with God everything is possible." (Mark 10:27 )
St. Jude, you are Jesus' cousin and friend. Accompanying him on his journeys and watching him cure the sick, you felt his infinite compassion and experienced his saving grace. You believed that he has the words of eternal life and power over sickness and death. Intercede for us now so that we might feel the comfort of his friendship, the warmth of his presence, and the healing power of his spirit. Because nothing is impossible for our God, pray that the Spirit will make us whole in body and soul. Amen.
I promise to encourage someone who is facing a seemingly hopeless situation.
Day Nine: St. Jude, Founder of the Church
As one of the twelve apostles, St. Jude is a part of the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ. (Revelations 21:14) Wherever he traveled, he established communities of faith in which "the faithful lived together and owned everything in common... sharing among themselves according to what each one needed. Day after day they went as a body to the temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously." (Acts 2:44-46)
St. Jude believed in unity and equality within the Church. Like St. Paul, he understood that "all of us are part of Christ's body." (I Corinthians 12:27) Because we are all equal in Christ, St. Jude professed with St. Paul, "There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free, between men and women; we are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
Jesus promised the apostles that he would send his Spirit, the advocate, "to lead them to complete truth." (John 16:13) On Pentecost, they received that Spirit "like a powerful wind from heaven," and began to make bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted them. (Acts 2:2,4) They overcame their fear and preached with wisdom and strength.
The Lord calls us to be active members of our parish communities, sharing our gifts and placing them at the service of others. We need to overcome our fears, timidity and selfish individualism in order to join with others to share our faith, unite in prayer, and work together to build up Christ's body, which is the church. Jesus longed that we all be one as he and the Father are one. May we work for that unity and equality among all believers in Jesus Christ.
St. Jude, you traveled far and wide to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations. You gathered people into communities of faith so that they might live the Gospel of the Lord, sharing their lives and resources, joining their hearts and minds in the Lord. You recognized the dignity of all, the diversity of gifts, and the equality among all God's children. Pray to the Lord to send his Spirit to our church leaders and to each of us so that we might create unity and equality amid the division and discrimination in our church communities. Help us overcome our own fear, our timidity or self-centeredness in order to place our gifts at the service of our sisters and brothers in our local church communities. Amen.
I will do something to help build up my local church.