A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
Good News Reflection:
Why did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene to stop clinging to him in today’s Gospel reading? Was he against hugs? Don’t you wish you could feel him hugging you right now? How could Mary’s embrace interfere with Jesus ascending to the Father?
In Jerusalem, the Chapel of Mary Magdalene in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has a bronze sculpture depicting this scripture. It shows Mary full of joy in the discovery that her dearest friend has risen from the dead. One hand of Jesus is gesturing for her to stop. His other hand is raised toward heaven, and his gaze is following this hand upward. It’s as if he’s saying, “Look toward heaven; what’s earthly doesn’t matter nearly as much.”
You can see it here:
Mary’s head is tilted upward. Her gaze wants to go where Jesus is looking, but her eyes are caught between heaven and earth. One of her hands wants to touch Jesus, the other is covering her heart as if realizing that this is where he will dwell after he ascends to the Father.
Have you ever wished you could see and touch Jesus in the flesh? Jesus wants you to know that it’s better to focus on the blessings of heaven than to wish for an experience that’s only brief and temporary. Jesus does hug us — through every hug that we get from other people — but the physical connection is never enough. That’s why he told Mary not to “cling” or “hold” onto him, instead of saying, “Don’t hug me.”
To fully embrace the eternal, we have to let go of everything that we cling to on earth. Saints have levitated in prayer because their spirits were more immersed in God than in their physical bodies. No longer attached to this world, their relationship with God was stronger than earthly gravity (stronger than all that is grave, all that pulls us down).
Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to raise our spirits to the Father. What are you clinging to that hinders this? Sometimes we hold onto the subconscious idea that God the Father is imperfect like our human fathers. Sometimes we’re more interested in our ideas, our goals, our desires (which will only satisfy us for a season) than in what the Father wants for us (which will satisfy us for all eternity).
Do we fail to make sacrifices for others because we’re clinging to our own earthly comfort? Are we refusing to stretch beyond our comfort zones, because we want to hold on to what’s familiar? Are we hanging on to any old habits or addictions?
Resurrected living means letting Jesus raise us from the dying, temporary world of earthly satisfactions into the joys of heaven. We don’t need to touch Jesus to feel touched by him. He’s inviting us to let our spirits soar heavenward while we’re still living on earth. We fly to him whenever we remember that what’s earthly doesn’t matter nearly as much as what awaits us in heaven.
Lord Jesus, I want to be a witness of Your resurrection. I want to share with those around me that Your love is beauty, hope, and eternal truth. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica