Do Not Hold Onto Me

 Christ Appearing To Magdalene: Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

In today's Gospel we read the account of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection.
(John 20:11~18). There is so much here on which to ponder and meditate. This is one passage I find both amusing and confusing. Amusing because I think Our Lord Himself must have been a little amused that Mary thought He was the gardener, and confusing because here in this passage Jesus tells her to stop holding onto Him. In other accounts we hear that when Mary Magdalene and the other women meet Jesus, they reach out to touch His feet; no sign of Him stopping them there.
Now I know there are countless theological commentaries on the reason behind this, but personally I just take it as one of those things that this side of heaven we may not ever fully understand. It is on my list of questions to ask Jesus when I hopefully make it to heaven some day.
While I am OK with waiting to find out, sometimes Our Lord gives us little glimpses into the reasons while we are still making our way here on this earth. I kind of think it is His way of rewarding us a little for putting the time and effort into meditating on and trying to understand, and in the end just plain believing in Him and His Word.
I was given one of those glimpses this morning at Mass in the form of the homily given by our priest. Father said that maybe the reason Jesus told Magdalene not to touch or hold onto Him was because He wants to be the One to reach out and touch us! Now I know this is not any kind of doctrine or dogma, but it did make a certain amount of sense to me. At the very least I stopped trying to figure the whole scene out.
Christ certainly wants to touch our lives and He does so every day in countless ways. If we are the ones constantly reaching for Him, we may never have that experience of feeling His reaching for us. He knows exactly the parts of our lives that need His perfect and gentle touch. In my own life I know that sometimes allowing Jesus to come and touch those parts that need it can be a scary thing.
He knew how much we would need this tangible experience of His touch, so He gave us the sacraments. I feel his healing touch every time I go to confession and hear the beautiful words of absolution, and every time I receive Him in Holy Communion. As our former pastor use to say, "Jesus doesn't get any closer to us than this!" I also feel and see it in others~ a kind word or deed, a hug, or a smile from a friend.
So while I may never find out the actual reason Jesus said this to Mary Magdalene while I walk this earth, I can see myself in her and allow Our Lord to reach out and touch my life where, when and how He sees fit.  And like Magdalene I can obey Our Lord's command to go and tell my brothers and sisters that "I have seen the Lord!"


Mary333 said…
This is something I always, always, wondered about! He even told Thomas to touch his wounds and I couldn't understand why Mary wasn't supposed to touch Him. At least now I have some food for thought :) I know everything in the Bible is there for a reason and this passage has always stumped me. I like the thought of Him reaching out for us :) I'm going to ask Him the same question someday. Thanks for a great post!
Anne said…
This does make some sense. Still, with you and Mary, it may just be one of the first questions I ask Him myself if He reaches out and draws me to eternity in Heaven with Him.
wheat4paradise said…
A wonderful post, Karinann!

I think that Our Lord's reference to His Ascension is the key to understanding this puzzling (yet delightful) passage. For it is only after His Ascension that Jesus becomes true Food for us in the Holy Eucharist. "Do not touch me now, Mary, for I must ascend to my Father. After I have ascended, then you shall take my Body and Blood upon your very tongue. Patience, Mary!"

This interpretation makes sense to me, given the sacramental depth of John's gospel. However, I agree with you, Mary, and Anne, that we will have to wait to learn from Jesus what He means to say to us.

God bless!