Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene
(Exodus 16:1-5.9-16; John 20:1-2.11-18)
In one of the most touching scenes in literature Hector, the Trojan prince, visits his family before going off to battle. His wife takes his hand and implores him to stay with them rather than back to war. But Hector’s sense of duty compels him to fight on. Today’s gospel showing Mary Magdalene’s clinging to Jesus parallels the passion of the ancient Greek drama.
Jesus’ words to Mary, “Stop holding on to me,” indicate both Mary’s affection for the Lord and also her incomplete understanding of his resurrection. He has overcome death, but he will not return to his disciples as a permanent, enfleshed companion. Rather he will ascend to his Father so that they may receive the Holy Spirit. Recognizing this truth, Mary dutifully proclaims Jesus’ resurrection.
We too have received the Holy Spirit. Like Mary we love the Lord and long to touch his incarnate flesh. But for now, again like Mary, we are content to proclaim his resurrection.