Friday, July 22, 2016

"Do not cling..."

Mary Magdalene Repentant - Gustave Dore
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 20:1-18

"Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"  John 20:17

Jesus was dead and now Mary was being denied even the last thing she could do for Him. I can sense her outrage: "'They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.'" So when Jesus revealed Himself to her, it was beyond incredible. Not only was His body returned, but Himself, alive, warm, touchable, talking!

It was different than before though. "'Don't cling to Me,'" Jesus said. He wouldn't be held down. His mission continued and involved ascension—His permanent physical removal from earth.

Was it bittersweet for Mary, I wonder, having Him back and yet not? Being told to deliver this mysterious message about His coming ascension to the disciples?

It's easy for us, who know how the story continues, to think it was no big deal for them. Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit came, and so the Spirit of Jesus was available to everyone—way better than when His physical presence was limited to one place at a time.

But Mary had no idea how events would unfold. It was as much a walk of faith for her as dealing with the unknown is for us. And just as Mary and the disciples came to understand the wisdom of God's plan as it played out, so we may see the same as we resist the temptation to cling to the past, and live in faith and obedience in the inscrutable now.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me not to cling to the past but to embrace Your plan as it unfolds in my life and circumstances. Amen.

MORE: The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

The liturgy for this day begins with this Collect:

"Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

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