(With apologies to Fr. Brian D'Arcy for my title...)
This being a Bank Holiday in Ireland, I went to Mass this morning. It was the feast day of St. Jude and St. Simon, the apostles.
The priest explained why St. Jude came to be the patron saint of hopeless cases, an explanation which you might know already but I didn't.
The reason is that St. Jude is actually St. Judas. Like Jesus and Joshua, or Mary and Miriam, they are the same name in Hebrew.
Of course, people felt a bit uneasy about invoking the name of Judas. So it happened that people only invoked St. Jude when they had run out of other saints to pray to. (Although a different explanation is given here.)
That's an interesting bit of speculation in itself, but it got me thinking about something else.
Which is this. It's always seemed odd to me that fiction writers (almost) never use the same name for different characters, unless they have some plot-related reason to do so. There's an obvious reason-- you don't want to confuse the reader. But in real life, people have identical given names all the time, so you'd think a desire for verisimilitude would (more often than it does) win over the desire for clarity.
It's just one of the many, many little touches that make me (and, I think, any honest enquirer) feel sure that the Gospels are not fiction. They're not neat enough to be fiction.