instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My soul clings to You

After Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus in the garden on the morning of His resurrection, He said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father."

According to St. Matthew, Mary (along with "the other Mary") had embraced His feet and done Him homage. This seems a natural enough reaction to seeing her once-dead Master alive before her, and in fact Jesus might come off seeming a bit brusque and businesslike in a moment that should have been a joyful and tender reunion.

But why was Mary at the tomb that morning to begin with? St. Luke indicates it was to complete the burial that had been interrupted by the Sabbath. Mary had been planning on perfuming her Lord's body and wrapping it up properly, a very intimate and tactile expression of her love.

Embracing Jesus' feet, then, was much along the lines of what she had planned since Friday. The circumstances were obviously indescribably happier, but might we not suppose she was still motivated by a desire -- excellent in itself, but still purely natural -- she had felt for days, that she embraced Him not as her Lord and her God but merely as her Master somehow restored?

If so, then Jesus' words -- which, incidentally, we don't need to think He spoke the instant she embraced Him -- would have been less a command to stop what she was doing and more of an invitation to see beyond the master-disciple relationship of the previous week and into the brother-sister relationship of the children of God. (Note how He goes on to tell her, not, "go to My disciples," but, "go to My brothers.")