And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child.
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them…
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.”
At some of the most important moments in His ministry, Our Lord often allows only Peter, James, and John to accompany Him. We have three instances recounted in the Gospels: the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration, and the Agony in the Garden.
Why is this privilege given to these particular Apostles?
There are many reasons why, but we’ll focus on one in particular today.
It’s this: each of these disciples embodies one of the three theological virtues, and Jesus is telling us that these virtues are necessary in order to enter into His most profound mysteries.
Let’s start by matching each Apostle with his corresponding virtue.
- Peter: Faith. Peter epitomized this virtue in his wholehearted profession of Christ’s divinity in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- James the Greater: Hope. James was the first Apostle to be martyred. Martyrs particularly exemplify this virtue, since—in the face of unspeakable suffering—they place all their hope in God Who is the reward of the just.
- John: Charity. John alone of all the Apostles stayed with Christ through His Passion and death, motivated by his extraordinary love for Him. John’s Gospel moreover gives us many insights into the love of Christ, such as the True Vine discourse and the oft-quoted John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…”
We can see in each of the Gospel instances how these virtues come into play. A very brief glance at each:
- In the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Christ tells Jairus: “Do not fear, only believe,” specifically encouraging the virtue of faith in him.
- In the Transfiguration, Christ reveals His divinity in order to strengthen the hope of the Apostles that will be grievously tested during the darkness of His Passion, when His divinity will be hidden.
- No clearer proof of Christ’s love exists than the events of that Passion, which began with His Agony in the Garden and which call us, in the most clear and convincing terms, to respond with love.
In life’s trying moments, we’ll need these virtues and the prayers of the Apostles who lived them.
Our Olive Wood Relic Cross—made in Bethlehem and touched to the Holy Sepulcher—fits comfortingly into the palm of your hand as a tangible reminder of the faith of Peter, the hope of James, the love of John, and the unfailing care of God. Order yours today at The Catholic Company!