• Sarah Raad

Holding On

I do not need to do anything, because God takes care of everything for me.

The Resurrection (Fra Angelico)

Today I was praying during Mass for the private intentions of many people. I prayed especially that they (and I) would be inspired to know the right way to proceed with the problems that have arisen in their (and my) lives.

During this time of intent prayer, and after I had decided to offer the Mass for the intentions of all these souls who are confused, lost or questioning, I heard such a beautiful Gospel, that I simply had to write about it.

Today, in the Gospel of John (20:11-18), we hear about the Resurrection of Christ, and His disciple, Mary Magdalene finding Him in the garden where His tomb was and mistaking Him for a gardener.

“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.’” (John 20:17).

The beautiful priest’s beautiful homily was simply so beautiful that I had to share it with you.

In this passage, Christ tells His beloved disciple to stop “holding on” to Him and Biblical scholars have theorised countless interpretations of this very phrase.

By some scholars, this phrase has been considered contentiously as evidence that Mary Magdalene was in love with Christ and that her relationship with Him was sexual. However, this interpretation of the phrase is unsupported by the Catholic Church ad seems unlikely. After all, the Magdalene and Christ had a years’-long relationship and over those years, Christ – who is PERFECT – would have established clear boundaries of His love for His disciples. There would have been no misunderstanding. After all, God is not an opportunistic boyfriend, out to get what He can get from groupies who followed Him around. And Christ does not discriminate. He does not love men and women with different levels of love. He merely loves them differently. And so, it seems to me unlikely that Christ was asking the Magdalene to step away from Him romantically, because their relationship was one of student and teacher, or child and father, or God and human – the created with the creator. There was not confusion in this perfect love…

Another interpretation of the phrase could consider that when the Magdalene clung to Him, she was like an anchor holding Christ down on Earth and preventing His resurrection into Heaven. However, this interpretation too, seems unlikely, because why would a mere human prevent the will of God? Surely Christ as the Risen God could easily perform whatever feats according to His will and that of His Father with or without the support of this woman?

The most beautiful interpretation of this phrase that seems the most likely interpretation to me – in my very limited experience – is that when Christ asked the Magdalene to stop “holding on” to Him, He was asking the Magdalene – and us – to let go of our previous understanding of God and to understand the NEW beauty of the Risen God. He was asking us to embrace this CHANGED PERSPECTIVE OF GOD!

This struck me today as I was praying for intentions so numerous and so overwhelming that I cannot see with my human eyes,any possible way for these intentions to be granted.

In the Gospel today, there was Saint Mary Magdalene, who looked at Christ, with her human eyes, and because she only understood Him in her very limited and human manner, did not even recognise Him as her LORD, despite living and travelling and working with Him for years…

Instead, her human eyes saw a gardener, a mere man, because she was looking only for a human solution when the problem required a DIVINE one…

Was she blinded by her tears? Was she blinded by her belief in what was possible and what was not? Was she sobbing so much that she barely made sense at all?

“Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’” (John 20:15).

How could she remove Him? He was a grown 33-year old man, who was a craftsman who travelled often and was strong and healthy when He was put to death. How could one woman have gone to His dead body and carried Him off? How could she have lifted Him in her arms? Even with all her best intentions, such a thing would be impossible.

How similarly I too mistake my own power in the face of suffering – how great is my pride in this! How similarly I too tell God – Give me this answer to my prayer so that I can fix it myself. How often God asks me the same questions He asked the Magdalene, “‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’”

How weak I am! God who is ALWAYS has already solved my problem for me. God who is ALWAYS is ALWAYS GOOD and ALWAYS LOVE and ALWAYS WANTING us.

Vinny Flynn in his book, “7 Secrets of Confession” explains it beautifully when he says that in just the same way that it is not the sun that turns away from the earth at night-time, it is not God who turns away from us when we sin, it is WE who turn away from GOD.

God is ALWAYS. God is ALWAYS waiting for us to turn back. He is ALWAYS waiting for us to see!

He waits for me. He waits for you too. He waits with infinite patience, while we weep in the Garden and speak to Him supposing He is merely the gardener, unable to recognise Him through our tears.

How beautiful, when He dries my eyes for me and speaks to me in the silence of my soul as I pray for these intentions of my heart that seem so overwhelming

How beautiful when He says to me… “Stop holding on to me…” (John 20:15). How beautiful if I have the faith of a child and let go…

After all, I do not need to “remove” anything. He is there – ALWAYS. God takes care of everything that I could ever need…

How beautiful is my Lord and God. How I long to hear Him speak my name…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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