Christ the firstfruits of departed believers

Resurrection of the Flesh (c. 1500) by Luca Signorelli – based on 1 Corinthians 15:52: “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto

Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:20.

Christians also mourn when through death they lose one of their loved ones for ever, as far as this life on earth is concerned. But the children of God do not mourn like others who, not knowing God, have no hope.

Is it not a glorious consolation to see the special relationship between the risen Lord and His departed saints in Holy Scripture? The firstfruits of a new harvest testify that the harvest has already begun and that a great quantity of other fruits will follow. Christ, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”, has been resurrected and is the guarantee that a vast number of the departed redeemed will soon follow Him.

When we lower the mortal remains of our loved ones into the grave, our first thought is that their spirit and soul are with the Lord. But their lifeless body is also sanctified and belongs to the Lord. When we bury it, we do so, fully trusting His promise, for He has said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

Our risen Redeemer and Lord could come from heaven even today. The first act of His power will then consist in awakening those who sleep in Him, just as He Himself was raised by the glory of the Father (cf. Romans 6:4). Together with the saints who are alive they will then ascend towards the Lord to be with Him, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”, for all eternity.

Image: By uploaded by Pethan, from, Public Domain,