Saturday, April 7, 2012


GIOTTO di Bondone
No. 37 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 21. Resurrection (Noli me tangere)
Fresco, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

John 20:11-17

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
Why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch him? In my search for an answer, I found this article in The Smithsonian Magazine, titled "Who Was Mary Magdalene?" by James Carroll, who writes a regular column in The Boston Globe.
The multiplicity of the Marys by itself was enough to mix things up—as were the various accounts of anointing, which in one place is the act of a loose-haired prostitute, in another of a modest stranger preparing Jesus for the tomb, and in yet another of a beloved friend named Mary. Women who weep, albeit in a range of circumstances, emerged as a motif. As with every narrative, erotic details loomed large, especially because Jesus’ attitude toward women with sexual histories was one of the things that set him apart from other teachers of the time. Not only was Jesus remembered as treating women with respect, as equals in his circle; not only did he refuse to reduce them to their sexuality; Jesus was expressly portrayed as a man who loved women, and whom women loved.

The climax of that theme takes place in the garden of the tomb, with that one word of address, “Mary!” It was enough to make her recognize him, and her response is clear from what he says then: “Do not cling to me.” Whatever it was before, bodily expression between Jesus and Mary of Magdala must be different now.
After his Resurrection, Jesus has a body. He is the same Jesus, but, at the same time, he is different, and his physical relationship with his disciples had to be different.

Carroll's entire piece is worth reading as a counter-story to the nonsense floating around about Mary Magdalene.

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Image from the Web Gallery of Art.


  1. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!!
    Blessed Easter Grandmere!

  2. Alleluia!
    Blessed Easter dear Mimi!

  3. Blessings back to you, dear margaret and David.

  4. The gospels (pedantic one that I am) are intentionally unclear about the "Body" of Jesus after the Resurrection. The stories grow more complex as the gospels get newer. Start with Mark, work your way up to John through Matthew and Luke, and it's unclear if Jesus as a body or what kind of body Jesus has. John is concerned to show Jesus is not a ghost, so he eats, and Thomas touches the wounds in his hands. But in Luke they don't recognize Jesus until a gesture, something familiar in the way he eats, reveals him; and then he disappears. Bodily? A la David Copperfield (the magician)?

    Hard to know.

    Anyway, as for Mary Magdalene=prostitute, basically any woman in the company of men (married or unmarried)=a prostitute in the time of Jesus (and in many ancient cultures in that part of the world to this good day). We are the ones who keep designating "sleeps with men for money" from "it's okay, they're just friends." There was no such distinction in Jesus' day; except by Jesus.

    Pedantically yours for a blessed Easter,

  5. Pedantic Rmj, it seems to me that if the Incarnation was bodily, then Jesus' Resurrection is of a body of some sort...a spiritual body, whatever that is. It's hard to know, and I speak with my caveat that faith is not certainty so much as it is acting-as-if in great hope.

    I agree that in her day, Mary Magdalene was seen as what we might call a camp-follower, certainly not as a respectable woman.

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  7. Matter is merely densely-packed energy. Would it be that difficult for God to manipulate energy at that level?

    NOLI ME TANGERE - Latin for "Get off me!"

  8. From the little Latin I know, "Don't touch me," seems more accurate.


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