Monday, July 22, 2019
“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.” John 20:15b-17b
What a privilege! Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Lord, and there is no doubt that many would have concluded that she was the most unworthy person to receive such a blessing.
Scripture states that Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Clearly, one who was possessed by seven demons had lived a sinful life. In the late 6th century, Pope Saint Gregory the Great also identified her as the sinful woman who was almost stoned. Jesus did not condemn this woman and told those who wanted to stone her that the one without sin should cast the first stone. One by one they left, and Jesus forgave her and reconciled her to the Father.
After encountering our Lord, Mary became His faithful follower, being one of the holy women to daily serve and care for His needs. For that reason, we now call her “saint.” But this passage above tells us even more about Jesus and His mercy.
This passage is taken from the account of Jesus’ Resurrection. Mary had gone to the tomb only to find it empty. She sat there weeping thinking that someone took Jesus’ body away. But suddenly, before her eyes, Jesus was there and alive. His words were piercing and profound. He said, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” There are two things to say about this passage.
First, it was indeed a wonderful blessing that Jesus appeared to her first. This sinful woman was now the first witness and first messenger to the Resurrection. This tells us that Jesus does not discriminate against us because of our past sins. He does not have a long memory holding us forever accountable for what we’ve done in the past. His forgiveness is absolute when given and it completely restores us to grace if we are open. This is what happened with Mary. Jesus chose her, this formerly sinful woman, to be His first witness of His Resurrection.
Secondly, this passage reveals that Jesus does want us to cling to Him, just not in a purely human way. Mary had come to know Jesus on Earth and now Jesus wanted to deepen His bond with her once He ascended into Heaven. At that time, He wanted to be more than just physically present, He wanted to dwell within her soul and unite Himself to her, and to us, in the most intimate and profound way.
Reflect, today, upon the desire in the Heart of our Lord that we cling to Him in Heaven. Hear Him say to you, “I have now ascended to my Father and I invite you to cling to me with your whole heart. Let me in and allow me to dwell within you in all intimacy. I love you and want to be one with you. Will you let me into your heart?”
Lord, I do want to cling to You. I do choose to be one with You in every way. Come live in my heart and make me one with You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Further Reading – Saint Mary Magdalene
Helpful article about the identity of Mary Magdalene – New Advent