Jesus seems to have had a close relationship with Mary Magdalene. Indeed, in this account from John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first disciple to whom Jesus greets after His resurrection.

Still, Jesus says to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” A way of interpreting this could be “do not hold me back by your worldly expectations.” Mary had been used to, and expected, Jesus to be a certain way. That was part of the comfortable and easy way they related previously. But this is different now. Jesus’ risen body is the different…and yet Jesus familiarly calls out to her as He always did.

In our own lives, there are times when God is familiar and comfortable. God can also be full of surprises, and challenges. If we hold or cling on only to the God who is familiar and comfortable, we also limit God, and ourselves, by our worldly expectations and limited imagination.

What can we do, then? Just like Mary Magdalene, we can try to be open to seeing God for how God is, rather than how we would like. And when we have seen the LORD, we can go out to all the world and tell the good news. 

—Fr. Glen Chun, S.J. is minister of the Loyola University Jesuit Community, Chicago, and also serves on the vocations staff for the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus