Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trusting in the Risen Christ and letting-go (Tuesday in the Octave of Easter, John 20:11-18)

Mary Magdalene 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 went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.

* * * * * * * *

It seems rather odd that Mary shouldn’t be able to recognize the risen Jesus when she sees him as she visits his tomb. The simplest reason of course could very well be that she had been crying all this time and the tears in her eyes prevented her from recognizing him at once.

When a person loses a loved one, the sorrow he feels in his heart is often so overwhelming that one becomes unable for a period of time, to see or feel anything joyful or happy.

But Mary wasn’t able to recognize Jesus, not because physical tears were blinding her eyes. Rather it was the suffering and pain in her heart that prevented her from recognizing him.

And so, when Jesus tells her not to “hold on to him”, he was really asking her no longer to hold on to her sorrow and loss. He was asking her to let go of whatever was burdening her heart and her soul. He was asking her to let go of her inner pain.

This too is the message of every Easter for each one of us. We too, have had our share of the tough and painful experiences of life. And at times, we shall be like Mary Magdalene, unable to see beyond the grief and sorrow that we feel, unable to let go.

This Easter season, Jesus invites us to ask ourselves if there are not things we still hold on to like Mary Magdalene: past hurts or sorrows, past grudges or pains. And we are invited to put our trust in the Risen Christ, and to slowly let go.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)