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Easter Tuesday with Leo

Gospel 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.


In today’s gospel from John, we have Mary Magdalene seeing Jesus for the first time after his resurrection. She first thought he was the gardener but then, after he spoke her name, she realized it was Jesus and she must have been holding on to him…tightly, I imagine. The gospel writer reports that Jesus said “[s]top 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.’”


We can probably all relate to Mary Magdalene, holding on, clinging to what we had “lost”, not wanting to allow it (or him or her, if a person) to leave us…again. Maybe we had this experience when one of our small children got lost in a store or when an older child returned home from college or military service. Perhaps we clung hard to a spouse or other loved one after the 9/11 tragedy. Maybe we don’t want to let go now as we welcome home a first responder or medical provider who has been working in the midst of our current coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps we are just scared that something bad will happen and we hold on to another person, or to a precious memory or a valued idea for “dear life”. Whatever the circumstance, holding on is a pretty natural response. We don’t want to lose what we know and love, especially if we have already experienced its loss, or near loss. I can’t say that I understand Jesus words “for I have not yet ascended to the Father”, but I do believe that his next words “[b]ut go to my brothers…” can only mean that we are not meant to just hold on and not act. We must take a risk, let go and do. We all have a task to complete, a mission to accomplish. For Mary Magdalene it was to announce Jesus’ words, to be the apostle to the apostles. What is it for you?


Here's a song to express our Easter joy: Alleluia! Love is Alive, by Steve Angrisano, Sarah Hart, and Jesse Manibusan:


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You keep him in perfect peace, 

whose mind is stayed on You,

because he trusts You. 

Isaiah 26:3