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Ivonne J. Hernandez finds in the Resurrection Gospel an invitation to move from grief into joy. 

“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17) 


Jesus was on His way to the Father when He suddenly felt a tug in His heart. It was Mary Magdalene looking for him, weeping. “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him” (John 20:13).  

As her tears fell to the ground, her hemorrhaging heart pulled the tassel of His cloak and held Him back. The sound of her cry pierced through eternity and compelled Him to stay for a moment in time.  

“Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:15). Her eyes, blinded by grief, could not see Him, could not recognize. At the sound of his voice, the veil lifted, wiping away her tears. When she heard her name, recognition came.

I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go. (Song of Songs 3:4)  


But He still had other plans, which she did not need to understand. “Stop holding on to me” (John 20:17). Let go … but why? Why would Jesus ask her to let Him go? “I have not yet ascended to the Father.”  

Mary is stuck in her grief. She is holding on, not to the hope of what is to come, but to the pain of what is gone. Yet, in her pain, Mary cries out.

The righteous cry out, the LORD hears, and he rescues them from all their afflictions. (Psalm 34:18)  




Just like He delivered her before from seven demons, He now frees her from the claws of death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Her love is transformed the moment she lets go.  

 “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)


It is when she is willing to let go and trust that she is free to live. And from that place of freedom, she can then accept her mission.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). 


How many times are we stuck in grief, holding on to the past? The rug gets pulled from under our feet, and we fall; we do not know which way to go. Our plans are no more. We close our eyes to the possibility that God has something better in store for us.  


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How many times are we stuck in grief, holding on to the past? #CatholicMom


We will suffer in this life, but we are not meant to stay stuck in grief. Every moment of life is transformed through the Cross of Our Lord. The Paschal Mystery is always in movement, from the Passion, through the Death, into the Resurrection and Ascension. It is in this continual offering of Jesus to the Father that we are meant to live. Through Him, with Him, and in Him, caught in the embrace of love, we go from mourning to dancing, from grief to joy. 

When we find ourselves in darkness, let us never tire of crying out to God, for He will leave the ninety-nine and come running back for us. He will tell the Father in Heaven, “Give me a moment, for I hear my beloved looking for me, and my heart is moved with love.” My friends, this is Divine Mercy; this is Divine Love. Trust in Him and seek Him; you will always find Him ready to embrace you and welcome you home. 



Copyright 2023 Ivonne J. Hernandez
Images: (top, center) Tretyakov Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; (bottom) Canva

This article was first published in the Elisheba Blog. It is published here with permission.