February 18, 2023
Simon is mentioned in Sacred Scripture and has been identified as one of the “brothers of the Lord.” Of course, Simon was not a blood brother of Jesus, but because the Aramaic and Hebrew language does not have a word for a close relative such as cousin, the word brother is often used. St. Simon was apparently a cousin of our Lord. Scripture tells us that his father was Cleophas, the brother of St. Joseph, and that his mother was the sister (or certainly the sister-in-law) of the Blessed Mother. This would make Simon the first cousin of Jesus. Simon’s brother, called James the Less, was bishop of Jerusalem, and when he was martyred the Apostles met together and chose Simon to take his brother’s office of Bishop.
Civil war broke out in the year 66 and the Christians, believed to have been forewarned by our Lord (Mt 24:16), fled from Jerusalem. Most went with Simon to the other side of the Jordan and settled in a small city called Pella. Later, after Jerusalem had been burned, the Christians returned and dwelt among the ruins until Emperor Hadrian completely razed the city. According to the writings of Eusebius, the Church historian, there were great miracles being performed by the saints during this time and many Jews were converting to Christianity because of these miracles. The Church was flourishing amidst the persecutions.
Simon was able to avoid being arrested when the Roman rulers and persecutors, Vespasian and Domitian, ordered the destruction of all who were of the race of David. However, when Trajan later gave a similar injunction, Simon was not only denounced as being one of David’s descendants, but also a Christian. He was brought to the Roman Governor, Atticus, and sentenced to death. At this time, Simon was extremely old, having lived to be 120 years old. Even though he was so elderly, the persecutors still tortured him before crucifying him.
There is much confusion about the “brothers of the Lord.” Catholic Tradition teaches that our Lord had no blood brothers and our Blessed Mother had no other children other than Jesus. A careful reading of Scripture will show that those same “brothers” are also mentioned in other areas of the Bible as being either the son of another man (other than Joseph) or of a woman named Mary, wife of Cleophas, and not the Virgin Mary. For further information on this topic, please refer to the book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating.
Dear Lord Jesus, we know that You are not only our Creator, Savior and God, but also our brother. In this respect, like Simon, we are all your brothers and sisters. We thank you, our Savior, for making us part of Your family and we pray that we will always remain in the Body of Christ. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
- St. Bernadette Soubirous (1879), Virgin, Saint of Lourdes
- St. Flavian (449), Bishop, Patriarch, Martyr
image: Menologion of Basil 036 / Anonymous/Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons