Stop Holding On

Readings for Thursday July 22, 2010

Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene

First Reading: Jeremiah 2:1-3,7-8,12-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 36
Gospel: John 20:1-2,11-18

Mary 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 Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he told her. (Jn. 20:11-18)

In today's gospel, we read about how Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Lord. After recognizing that it is Jesus who is standing before her, Jesus says to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." Now why would Jesus say this? Was Mary clinging to His clothes? Was she tugging at His tassels? Was she grabbing onto His legs like a little kid? Most likely she was not physically holding on to Him, so why would Jesus say this? I think it is because Mary was holding on to the past, of how she knew Jesus.

You see, Mary, like all of Jesus' followers only knew Him as God on earth; they did not know Him as God in heaven. They only knew Him from a limited perspective, they did not know Him in all His glory. They did not know His power over sin and death, and how there were still so many things that He came to do. They did not have the understanding of how He came to suffer and die for all of us, and to be risen in victory over sin and death. They were holding on to what they knew, and by doing this they were placing limits on God. They were bringing God down to their level and fitting Him into something that they could grasp. What they needed to do, and what we need to do in our lives, is let God be God. There are no limits on God, and we should not be trying to limit Him or reduce Him to anything. We all need to let go and let God be God.

He is in charge, we will never fully understand Him, and the reality is that God is a mystery, and will never be fully revealed to us while we are on earth. Our simple intellects cannot even begin to grasp all that is God. The sooner we realize that we are the ones who are limited, and Jesus is Lord, the better.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for the gift of our lives and for the many blessings in our lives. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, we praise you and thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Help us to never veer from you path and your ways. Lord, we are the ones who are limited, help us to never try to reduce you or limit you. We praise you for your many gifts in our lives, may we each be good stewards of all that you entrust to us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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