On Easter Day, we read Matthew’s account of the Resurrection—what I called the “thriller” version, which emphasizes the importance of having no fear. Today’s reading is the second half of the alternative reading for this Easter, John’s account, in which Jesus tells Mary, “Do not hold on to me.” This wonderful fresco scene by Giotto stresses Mary’s desire to reach out and touch Jesus (which she does do in Matthew), which Jesus resists. Why is he in such a hurry, and why does he carry the banner?
The Holy Gospel John 20:11-18
Mary Magdalene 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 around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Resurrection (Noli me tangere): Scenes from the Life of Christ
Giotto di Bondone (1304-1306)
The Scrovgni (Arena) Chapel, Padova, Italy