Neil Armstrong died today. He was the first man to walk on the moon. The interesting thing about being first is that no one can ever take that away. If you set a record in the Olympics, it can be broken, but if you are the first to do something, no one else can ever be first. Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the surface of something that was not earth. Ecclesiastes has that great line about how nothing new ever really happens, but this was something new. In the history of humanity, no one had ever done it before.
Mary was the first disciple of Jesus Christ and the first human person to rise from the dead. The Apostles were the first humans to receive Communion. When St. Paul entered a new town, there was a good chance that he was the first one to preach the Gospel there. Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Lord. When Jesus Christ came, it changed everything, so there were lots of firsts.
But there have been other firsts in the 2000 years afterward. Anthony was probably not the first to go out to the desert, but his biography was the first bestselling story of a saint. He probably had no idea that this would happen when he sold everything and left. Francis was the first Franciscan. Theresa of Avila was the first discalced Carmelite, and the first female doctor of the Church. Blessed Theresa of Calcutta was the first Missionary of Charity.
Who knows what "firsts" yet await us? There are great things to be done out there. And someday, what "lasts": the last Pope, the last president, the last atheist, the last human being.