Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, ‘Do not hold on to me,
because I have not yet ascended to the Father’. John 20:17a
I write this in the midst of the strangest of Lents; a season that has demanded we ‘give up’ so many familiar and well loved activities and plans. These have been replaced, for the time being, by an international call to withdraw from one another and, instead, to be alone and apart.
Some have exhibited great annoyance at this and have stayed at home only after much persuasion, reluctantly accepting it is for the common good. But it seems to me that this present time can offer us a unique space in which we may switch off the endless drama of the television and the constant scrolling of the iPad and, instead, simply ‘be’; simply embrace what is, as a time of retreat, in which we may reevaluate ourselves, our priorities and our relationship with God.
We will soon enter Holy Week and Easter, but it will not be as it ever was before. We will do this apart. We, like Mary Magdalene in the garden on that first Easter Day, may have the impulse to grasp at the holy and the other. We may want the answers now and to be delivered from our anxiety and distress. But, instead, our Risen Lord asks that we do not do this; instead we are called to wait and, in the meantime, to be bearers of the good news of God’s love and faithfulness, even in the face of such suffering.
I end with this prayer from St Paul’s Cathedral in London
The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked (John 20:19)
Ever present God,
be with us in our isolation,
be close to us in our distancing,
be healing in our sickness,
be light in our darkness,
be wisdom in our confusion,
be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar that when the doors reopen
we may with the zeal of Pentecost
inhabit our communities
and speak of your goodness
to an emerging world.
For Jesus’ sake.
Yours in the faith,