Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The "First Fruits" Thing

A comment was placed on today's earlier post that I found really offensive. Ha ha! Just kidding. Actually, it was a really good question:

"I don't understand the 'first fruits' thing. It was in the readings today, too. What is it all about?"

It's hard for us to relate to the idea of first fruits, because we buy our fruit from the grocery store, and they always have more available. The first fruits is the first batch harvested from a crop of some plant: figs, wheat, apples, whatever. The Jewish law commanded a tithe from the first fruits (Ex 23:19). We don't realize it at first, but that was a HUGE act of faith, because their might not have been second fruits, so to speak. After hauling in the first batch of wheat, the rest might have gotten a disease, or eaten by rodents, or destroyed by a storm. Such things happened, and so obedience to the Law of God required trust in God, that God would provide.

Today's readings (Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56), mentions first fruits in a related way. The reading from 1 Corinthians says, "Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." By fallen asleep, St. Paul and many early Christians meant "died," but said it that way to express the temporariness of the death. We Christians believe that on the last day the dead will rise and receive their judgment ("He will come to judge the living and the dead"). Death came into the world because of sin. When everything is set to right by God at the Last Judgment, there will be no more death.

Remember how Christ had the parable of the sower and the seeds? In fact, he had a number that used that image. The seeds are always the good people, or the Gospel message, etc. Christ plants these seeds. Then like the grain of wheat that has to fall to the ground in order to give rise to a hundredfold harvest, Christ died.

He rose from the dead, and we will eventually rise from the dead after Him. He is the first fruits of this harvest of new, eternal life. In faith, we trust and follow Him, even to death, trusting that "if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in [us], he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to [our] mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in [us]," (Rom 8:11).

Because of this faith, we live differently than the rest of the world. We don't live just for this world - for fame, sex, power, money. We live for the new and eternal life that God has promised to us. He has fulfilled that promise in Jesus first when Jesus was resurrected and then ascended into heaven. But Jesus is not only fully human, but also fully God. So why would it be such a big deal that He goes to heaven? As if to settle any doubts about what He meant, God fulfilled the resurrection promise for Mary, too - not only Jesus, but all those with Jesus will rise to the new and eternal life. Jesus goes first, and then we follow in faith.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see. Thanks for the explaination.

His Handmaid's son said...

You're welcome! Happy Assumption Day!

Anonymous said...

I meant to tell you this is chavon, by the way.

His Handmaid's son said...

Thanks, Chavon. I've known a few Chavons. Have you and I met?