"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb" (Rev 14:4).
The majestic vision of final triumph in the Book of Revelation shows a symbolic 144,000 faithful disciples representing the 12 tribes of the New Israel gathered with Jesus in the presence of God. Heaven roars like a rushing river with the sound of harps and the voices of the saints singing God’s praise. These followers have gone through the full mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection and, with him, are now the "first fruits" of the new creation, harvested from humanity and alive forever within the Trinity.
Who are these followers of Jesus and how did they come to such blessing?
Today's Gospel from Luke 21 tells us. Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem watching people approach the large receptacle for donations. Rich men announce their arrival with trumpets and make a show of their gifts, but Jesus observes as a poor widow puts in two small coins, not from her surplus wealth but from her very substance, "all that she had." She is one of God’s anawim, “little ones” who have no worldly power, only the force of their integrity and trust in God. They will be revealed on the last day as God’s saints, those people who imitated God’s seemingly powerless, patient fidelity and love.
Unless we lose ourselves in that same imitation, we will never find ourselves. The proud have their day in the spotlight, but have traded appearance for reality. They will lose themselves in the end for withholding the one thing God must have to welcome us into the company of saints — our true selves.