"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.'" – Jn 20:17
In the New Testament, there is no account of Jesus’ resurrection. There are only stories of empty tombs and appearances of the Risen Jesus. They depict a pattern of six dimensions. The first is that the Risen Jesus always consoles those he meets with peace. The second is highlighted by the encounter with Mary Magdalene: The Risen One invites us to let go.
When we love someone or something deeply, we tend to cling. When we are interiorly free, we are more willingly to let go. When we are too attached, we possess. This is “my precious,” we say as we hold on too tightly, echoing Gollum in Lord of the Rings. We don’t really know how healthy our attachment is until that relationship changes, is severed, or lost. It gives me much hope that the Risen Jesus meets Mary and us in our longing and grieving, offering something greater than what we cling to.
By asking Mary, “Whom are you looking for?” Jesus invites her to get in touch with her deeper desire beyond her tears and loss. She responds in deep faith, “Rabbouni-Teacher”. You are the one in whom my hope for fulfillment, my longing for intimacy, is placed. Gradually, she realizes that one she loves, Jesus of Nazareth, is been transformed into the Lord of her faith. Slowly, she grows in awareness that the great love of her life is more than flesh-and-blood, but the great Giver.
There is a question wise spiritual directors ask people they accompany, “Are you looking for the consolation of God (peace, joy, grace, the gifts) or the God of consolation (the Giver of all the gifts longed for)?
While I do like “my cake and eat it too,” my plans, my dreams, something greater awaits. The invitation to let go is really an offer to fulfill my longing for greater life and meaning. For God’s very Self.
“Risen Lord, help me to relax whatever I am clutching that I may be more willing to be embraced by You.”