Noli me tangere is the well-known Latin translation of Jesus’ words in this moment, a moment that’s been expressed in art countless times. It’s also a moment that’s often misunderstood. Why is Jesus brushing off Mary Magdalene, his faithful friend, a woman who, in gratitude for the spiritual healing he’d given her, had given her life to him?
Well, he’s not brushing her off. He’s focusing her. He’s inviting her to look at him not simply for how she experienced him in the past—the “teacher” as she calls him then—but as someone even greater: Lord. It’s a challenge to us too. Do we see Jesus as a teacher, wise and helpful, or have we given our lives to him completely and then followed in Mary Magdalene’s footsteps to announce, “I have seen the Lord,” (verse 18) to those on the way?
Living Faith provides brief daily Catholic devotions based on one of the Mass readings of the day. Published new each quarter, these reflections are written by women and men from a variety of backgrounds - lay people as well as clergy and religious. Learn more.
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