This past Monday, October 29, was the feast day of St. Simon and St. Jude, who were named as apostles in the gospels. We don’t know much more about them than that, at least from the scriptures. Tradition has it that they were martyred while missionaries together in Persia. There are various theories about them — for example that Simon had been part of a radical Jewish independence group called the Zealots, and that Jude might have been one of Jesus’ brothers — but little is known for sure.

For those of you who were brought up Roman Catholic, you may recall that Jude is the patron saint for lost causes. His name sounds so much like the name of Jesus’ betrayer — Judas Iscariot — that the faithful were said to try all the other apostles as intercessors first, before praying that Jude would intercede on their behalf. Thus he became the Saint of Last Resort, and a prayer associated with him went:“Saint Jude, Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.”

The news these past weeks may be leading many of us to feel hopeless, or at least surrounded by hopeless causes. Looking for a prayer of hopefulness in times of strife, I remembered the beautiful Invocation that Bishop Gene Robinson gave at President Obama’s first Inauguration — a prayer that was unfortunately lost among the hype around other religious guests that day. But part of Bp. Robinson’s prayer for our nation feels eerily relevant for today, and it went as follows:

“Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger — at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort — at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.”

Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is not meant to be easy, a ticket to a comfortable life. Sometimes it might even seem like a lost cause. But let us persevere and be blessed with tears, blessed with anger, blessed with discomfort — and let those blessings inspire us to rise to the challenges of the future, even when we are feeling hopeless.

Maybe for some extra help, we might ask Saint Jude to aid us in our endeavors –“Saint Jude, Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.”

Oh, and on November 6, get out there and vote, and encourage everyone you know to do the same!!!