I was reading through the Book of Wisdom when I came across this passage:
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
3 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4 For though in the sight of men they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
There was something about that last verse which seemed familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it at first. Then, as I was reading the story of the rich young man in the gospel of Matthew I caught this:
27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.
While the passage from the Book of Wisdom probably referred to all of the faithful who die for their faith, it seems especially fitting for the Apostles. This is because all but one of them died a violent death (the exception is John, who is believed to have died around 100 A.D.), and many were tormented before their deaths. The first passage exemplifies the disconnect between those who believe and those who don’t. For the latter fail to realize that this life is a mere transitory state. It represents a chance to be tested, to be purified and to be found worthy by God. For what seems like a loss in this life is a gain in the next, which our Savior declares is eternal. Jesus is reassuring the Apostles here that the promises made before will be honored, and that what seems like a sacrifice is really an investment.