Noli me tangere

Noli me tangere - Do not touch me - Fra Angelico

“Do not cling to me,” are words that might seem quite harsh to those, like Mary Magdala, who loved Jesus much and also were filled with intense grief, but at his risen appearance were asked to hold back. Jesus had not, all of a sudden, become like an Englishman, who preferred not to be so demonstrative with regard to affections! So what is happening here?

Well of course the Resurrection has occurred! And this is not just a resuscitation of Jesus’ body (like Lazarus being raised from the dead) but a wholly new way of being human. So of course the way in which people relate to the risen Christ is now different. Yes it will be a human way of relating but it will necessarily be a spiritual way.

Eventually of course, after the Ascension, the risen Lord will not be seen until the end of time, but only seen through the sacramental signs of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of the Eucharist. The disciples must relinquish the physical presence of Jesus with which they were so comfortable. From now on the disciples of Jesus must embrace Him in a secret and marvellous way through prayer and faith.

Mary Magdalene here may well represent the contemplative spirit of the Church and thus shows us how we are to embrace the whole of Christ.

Fr Ian

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