"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
The more we love someone or something deeply, the more we tend to cling. We mistake the object of our love as the Source of our longing, because that person, thing, or circumstance has helped us be happy, find meaning, or grow. We can become too attached, even possessive, holding on too tightly. We don’t really know how healthy our attachment is until that relationship changes, is severed, or lost.
The Risen Jesus meets Mary Magdalene as she is overcome by grief. By asking her, “Whom are you looking for?” he invites her to get in touch with a deeper desire beyond her tears and loss. Moreover, when called by name in a familiar and intimate way, she responds in deep faith with “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. Instead of focusing on her loss, the Risen One gives her a mission to console, to let go, to witness a freer love.
I am very much like Mary, bent over the tomb, mourning when a relationship with a person, a project, or dream that has brought happiness or meaning does not last as long or turn out the way I expected. It gives me much hope that the Risen Jesus meets Mary and I in our longing and grieving, offering something greater than what we cling to. While I still hold on to my plans, my dreams, something greater awaits. The Risen One invites me to let go and let God be God. That invitation becomes an offer to fulfill my longing for greater life and meaning. For God’s very Self, for the Giver of all gifts.
Risen Lord, help me to relax whatever I am clutching that I may be more willing to be embraced by You.