By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge
Our Jesus story this morning (John 20:15-18) reminds me of that recent commercial about toilets. In one commercial, a man is jogging while a woman clings to his back repeatedly saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“Nobody likes a clinger,” the man says to the camera in an exasperated tone.
It’s certainly a funny way to sell a toilet that they promise will wash away the most determined clinger. I think if Jesus had known about this meme that’s what he would have said to Mary that morning when she become the first person to greet him after his resurrection from the tomb.
Instead, he’s reported to have said, “Do not hold on to me,” when Mary touched him.
I think we can all appreciate the fact that Mary wanted to cling to Jesus. He was, after all, her teacher and mentor. She loved him above everyone else, and given the chance to be with him again, she’s not going to let go of that.
But, Jesus tells her something that sounds curious to our modern ears. The reason he gives for not holding on to him is because he had not yet ascended to God. Presumably, after Jesus ascends, we’re welcome to cling to him as long as we like. But, what does he mean by this?
I believe what Jesus is saying to Mary, and to us through this passage, is to embrace letting go. We humans love to cling to things, be they beliefs, possessions, experiences, emotions, sometimes even other people. We believe that our lives will somehow be diminished if we don’t have these things, beliefs or people in our lives. So, we desperately try to hang on and build our identity around these things.
Jesus is saying, however, that the true power of beliefs, experiences and emotions isn’t in the clinging … it’s in the letting go … it’s in our willingness to allow them to “ascend to God.” When we let go, Jesus says, we find that everything we cling to comes back to us in new and more powerful manifestations.
The money you give to a homeless person may come back to you in the form of unexpected money in your time of need. The time you spend helping someone who is sick or in need may come back to you in the form of others standing ready to help you. The person you let go of who you believe you can’t live without could make room for a new person to arrive in your life that fulfills you in ways the other person never could. Letting go of an old job clears the way for a more fulfilling career. Letting go of grudges can open you up to receive forgiveness for your own transgressions.
The benefits of letting go and allowing all these things to “ascend to God” are endless …
Jesus invites us to embrace letting go, because when we cling to anything in this life, we limit what we can receive. Clinging to anything in this life simply shuts us up in the tomb of ego. The ego loves to cling because it believes that what it has now is the best it can get and it doesn’t trust that it will receive more if it will give up what it has.
Jesus has news for our ego: “Nobody likes a clinger.” It’s time to flush those old beliefs.