Minister's Letter - March 2016
Rev Peter Cornick
Rev Peter CornickIn the garden on Easter morning, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold on to me …” (John 20: 17). These are not Jesus’ first words to Mary. They come after Mary fails to recognise Jesus until he calls her name; Mary then responds by saying, “Teacher”.

In this moment of recognition, it seems as if Mary holds onto Jesus, as we might hug a friend we haven’t seen for a long time. She is overjoyed to see him. And yet, in this moment of Easter joy, Jesus tells her: “Do not hold on to me …”. Why?

The resurrection appearance to Mary, and to the other friends of Jesus, marks a transition. They knew the Jesus of Galilee well. Now, Jesus has passed through death; no-one remains the same when touched by death. Jesus says to Mary, he is returning to his Father; so how could his friends now experience his presence in a different way?

“Do not hold on to me …” suggests Jesus preparing Mary to live without his physical presence beside her. The resurrection, for Jesus, is a movement from earthly to eternal life. Mary is trying to make sense of this.

As Mary runs to tell the other disciples the news that she has met the risen Lord, she does exactly what Jesus asks. She sets about the work of proclaiming his risen life amongst those who cannot physically see him. “Do not hold on to me …” invites Mary and us, to live not by holding on, but by faith.