This is a heart-warming Gospel. We thrill to Mary Magdalene’ recognizing Jesus just from the way he said, “Mary.” Following on that, we feel we are part of the hugging when Magdalene wont let go of Jesus after he said, “Stop holding on to me.”
The reason Jesus gave to Magdalene for letting go of him was interesting. He said, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Was he referring to his final physical departure from this world commemorated by Ascension Thursday? It’s hard to say.
The four Gospels give us such a confusing mixture of stories that we can’t line them up in the sequence in which the meetings occurred.
Take, for instance, what Peter said on Pentecost in Acts of the Apostles, Chapter Two. In verse 32 Peter said, “God raised this Jesus, of this we are all witnesses.” In the next verse, verse 33, Peter said, “Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit.” Can we take that to mean that God first raised Jesus from the dead, allowing him to have this meeting with Mary Magdalene, then afterwards exalted Jesus to his right hand to receive the Spirit?
The complications involved remind me of Father Paddy Mehan who was forced to be the MC for the Mass at the cathedral when my classmates and I were ordained priests. Paddy had pages and pages of notes telling us precisely where we were to stand and just how we were to hold our hands at every moment.
After he had coached us through the three-hour-long ceremony, one of my classmates asked, “What must we do after the last blessing?” Paddy replied, “After that it’s all confusion. That’s the beauty of it.” Perhaps the confusion of the Resurrection accounts adds to their beauty.