What on earth? Why can’t Mary Magdalene hug Jesus? She has undergone such tremendous suffering in the last few days. She, along with the beloved apostle John, and the Blessed Virgin Mary were there and witnessed the unthinkable raw horror of the Passion. Why could she not hold Him? There is no answer, other than because He hadn’t ascended yet. The inability to touch Christ isn’t the only noteworthy part of the Gospel for me, but perhaps the one that first leaps from my heart to hers.
Another moment of surprise for me is how she recognizes Him, or rather, how she does not recognize Him. She does not know Jesus by sight. She supposed Him for the gardener. She knows Him after He says her name. That very visceral connection of calling someone by their name is enough for her to suddenly know Him. How powerful a name is, especially His name.
My last wowzer moment of this reading is that it is Mary who brings the news to the disciples. She was chosen to be the messenger of the biggest shock or perhaps relief of their lives. Why her? We see time and again in the Bible that God works through intermediaries such as angels, prophets, and messengers. But we don’t always know why He chose whom He chooses. Perhaps her fierce loyalty was a factor. Perhaps she needed that special connection above others.
These three little sprigs of reflection in this unfolding Spring (slow to unfold here in Minnesota) echo in my heart as I struggle to know why God has seemingly also disappeared from my life, times when I bitterly cried alone in the car. Feeling far away from God, unable to touch Him emotionally, not knowing Him when He is present, and then realizing He has chosen me for certain crosses brings a measure of comfort to the hard times.
Perhaps it did for Mary, too, after it all blew over and Jesus went up to Heaven, and she was left with the rest of her life to meditate on what happened that day.
Where has God gone in your life? Will you recognize Him when He comes back? Have you invited Him back?
Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.