The Catholic Defender: St. Simon the Zealot to Apostle of Jesus Christ
At the time of Christ Israel was dominated by Rome, the Jews were heavily suppressed and over taxed and the burden among the people unbearable.
Roman law made life difficult throughout the Roman Empire. Among the Jews were attempts to organize revolt and St. Simon was part of a group known as the "Zealot's". Sometimes St. Simon is called Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15), while other times he was called the surname Canaanean or Canaanite (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18).
St. Simon is mentioned in Mark 6:4 to be a brother of James and Jude (Judas) who were close relatives to Jesus. Joses is another brother that is listed by St. Mark. Being raised in the household of Clopas (John 19:25, Mark 15:40) it is interesting that in Mark's Gospel account of the crucifixion, St. Simon was not mentioned.
It is not known how long St. Simon had been part of the Zealot's but we know that they intended to honor God and be faithful to the Law of Moses. St. Simon was regarded as an expert on the Law and was well versed on the Prophets and their writings.
Sometimes the Zealots blended in with other groups longing for the coming of the Messiah as their goals sometimes radically agreed.
That was the good side but the Zealots had their faults assassinating nobility, caused bloodshed even near Jewish temples, caused Roman tyranny as they crushed the people into submission. The Zealots drew rough individuals who did not hold to the religious fever of the group's intent.
St. Simon was born and raised in Cana of Galilee.
Matthew 2:16-18 speaks of the massacre of the infants because King Herod tried to kill the Christ Child. We know that ultimately, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph went to Egypt for safety.
There is a unique story of St. Simon, it concerned his mother and what she would tell him of that time. At that dreadful time she hid Simon under a fig tree that was growing in her house.
At night she would nurse Simon but kept him hid during the day until the persecution ceased. Simon's mother kept this to herself not telling another soul including Simon until he was full grown.
Nobody would have know this because Simon himself never told anyone this story.
It was in the spring of 30 A.D, when Jesus approached Simon along the shore of Tiberias and with his friends watching, Jesus took Simon to the side and revealed to him the whole story. This so affected Simon that he realized Jesus to be the Messiah and immediately became one of the Twelve.
Jesus had this same affect with the call of St. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) (John 1:49-51).
So, along with St. Andrew, Peter, James, and John the son'ss of Zebedee, Simon's brother Jude (Thaddaeus) and Judas Iscariot, St. Simon became followers of Jesus along the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. St. Simon put aside the Zealot's and placed his full attention to serving Jesus.
No doubt he would have been invited and knew the wedding groom and guests where Jesus performed His first public Miracle (John 2:1-11).
The public Ministry of Jesus was a movement, the miracles, the parables, the teaching and proclamation of the kingdom of heaven greatly inspired St. Simon.
St. Simon was present when Jesus walked on the water, when Jesus fed the five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus would always take his Apostles aside and explain the parables giving them the meaning behind them. This is important because St. Simon would later take these teachings and reach out to the nations.
After the Resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles remained in Jerusalem until after Jesus Ascension into Heaven, after Pentecost, and after the election of St. Mathias to replace Judas Iscariot.
St. Simon is largely associated with St. Jude, his brother in their evangelistic outreach.
They evangelized Egypt, Persia, Armenia, and possibly Beirut Lebanon.
St. James suffered Martyrdom in Jerusalem in 62 A.D. and St. Jude made his way back to Jerusalem to elect St. Simon as successor as the second Bishop of Jerusalem.
St. Simon himself would suffer martyrdom for Jesus, according to tradition, he was crucified due to the jealousy of the Sanhedrin. Because of St. Simon's success in leading people to the Catholic Faith, they were particularly cruel as tradition shows St. Simon was also sawed in half.
October 28th is St. Simon's Feast day.
Jesus told St. Simon and the Apostles, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."