by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 21.05.2023
“Do not cling to me!”. These are among the first words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection. Everybody knows that first impressions are important, so why did Jesus use these words? What could he mean?
In the days after Easter this year, I was mulling over this phrase and trying to apply it to my everyday life. “Do not cling to me!” – it is a call to not hang on to my pre-conceived notions about who God is, to what God wants. It is so easy to “package” God. In some ways this is what much formalised religion is. It is also comfortable to cling to our traditions and religious practices.
At the same time this year, Northern Ireland was commemorating 25 years of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Yes, there is still so much “clinging” to identity, history, and the past. Loyalists are so fierce in their identification with being British that you could say they are “nationalists” for Northern Ireland. The Nationalists, on their side, are evoking memories of the Easter Rising, of fallen heroes. It could be said that they are “loyalist” to their cause of Irish unification. Complicated, isn’t it?
Basically, it says to me that labels don’t matter much. Just as we are called to not “package” God, so we must avoid labelling our neighbours (or ourselves). Each person is unique, called to bring forth some aspect of God’s goodness into this world.
This year, as I hear the phrase, “do not cling to me”, I am asking myself about my own openness to accept change. Of course, there is the inevitable change due to ageing. There is not much I can do about that except treat it with good humour! There is also the change when we grieve for someone who has passed on through death to new life in eternity. How can we “cling” when the person is returning to the God to whom they belong in the first place? There are so many aspects of life that call for an acceptance of change and letting go.
This year I want to “let go” so that something better may be born.