These words, translated “Stop holding on to me” or “Do not cling to me,” Jesus speaks after his resurrection to Mary Magdalene in today’s Gospel (Jn 20:11-18)
Fr. Don preached on this phrase, this command, this evening. In this Gospel story, Mary Magdalene does not immediately recognize Jesus. She knows he has risen, but she expects him to be the same after his resurrection.
So there she is, outside the tomb, weeping. Jesus approaches her, and she mistakes him as a gardener. I wonder what he was wearing! Jesus asks her: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
A few more words are spoken, and she begins to recognize that indeed this is the Risen Lord. He commands her: “Stop holding on to me.”
Fr. Don spoke about the ways in which we cling to a notion of God we are comfortable with. The trouble with this is that we stop there! We neglect to learn more, we neglect to tend to other sides of God. And there are so many!
The same is true for each other; we think we’ve got so many of the people in our lives all figured out. We don’t expect anything new from them. When that happens, we sadly close ourselves to other layers that exist within them.
The trick is to always find out new things about God to love–to not cling to certain understandings we think we have of him.