CHRIST PROMISED A reward for any disciple who perseveres to the end. That reward is nothing less than an eternal paradise. St John describes the scene in the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus said: “Yes, it is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day.”
The same Gospel shows Jesus speaking to the Apostles about heaven while they are gathered together for the Last Supper: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.”
The “many rooms” suggest that different Christians look forward to different rewards. We can’t spell out exactly what that means.
As St Paul wrote in First Corinthians (quoting Isaiah): “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has it ever entered into the mind of man, the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” Even so, this much seems to be implied: God will give to each believer whatever it takes to make that person totally fulfilled and completely happy.
Saint John Chrysostom was one of the bishops of the early Church and also one of the most famous preachers. We have copies of his sermons. In a commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew, the bishop explains the great mystery — the reward awaiting us in heaven. It’s as if Jesus were to say:
“I ask no payment at all for what I am giving you. I would rather be in debt to you, because you will put me in your debt by taking everything I have to offer. To what can this honour be compared? I am your father, brother, spouse, food, home, clothing. I am your root and foundation. I am everything your heart desires. Do you think you lack anything?
I will be your servant. (I have come to serve, not to be served!) I am your friend, your member and head, your brother, sister and mother. I am all things. All I desire is the intimacy of your love. Look at me, made poor for you so that you might become rich. I am a beggar for you, crucified for you, buried for you. In heaven I shall speak in God’s presence on your behalf. On earth I am his envoy to you, and you are everything to me: my brother, my sister, my co-heir and my friend. What more could you want?”
Is it hard to persevere? Yes, but it’s worth it. Jesus will reward you for being faithful to the end.