In the Christian scheme of things, the movement from the human condition to divine transformation requires the mediation of a personal relationship with God. The personal love of Jesus facilitates the growth of the relationship. The experience of being loved by him draws the Christian out of selfishness into deeper levels of self-surrender.
*Thomas Keating, The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
There is a contrast between how Mary Magdalene is addressed in this story. The angels speak to her as "dear woman." "Woman" is a gender term, covering every woman. "Woman," even "dear...," does not indicate any intimacy.
Later, Jesus addresses her as "dear woman." Again, there is no specificity or specific relationship indicated, only gender.
Next, Jesus says "Mary!" This indicates intimate insight into she who had been called "dear woman." For scripturally the name implies intimate knowledge of a person, along with insight into his or her nature.
"Mary!" implies a relationship. And "Mary!" notes continuance of a relationship spanning before and after the Resurrection.
Thomas Keating sees in this story, as with the Easter Mystery stories generally, contemplative insight into personal spiritual transformation. The stories, while based in true historical events, are addressed to later church communities. They have assumed an instructive meaning beyond what happened in the past with Jesus.
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Jesus is speaking Mary into a deeper relationship with Him. She thought he was dead, and this shows she had failed to grasp the spiritual depth to Christ. She is being spiritually enlightened to a deeper meaning, a deeper relationship.
Jesus awakens Mary, now, to a relationship with the Universal and Cosmic Christ. Mary must release her grasp on Jesus as the incarnated Word, Jesus of Nazareth, and see that the Resurrected Christ is a fuller, less restricted way of being in relationship with her Friend and Lord, in Love.
This transition in consciousness and relationship is a difficult one. But it is scriptural to grow from attachment to the Christ as Jesus of Nazareth to the Living, Cosmically Present Christ.
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ~as~Jesus, or Son of Man, according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
*II Corinthians 5.16, NASB
In living into the Resurrection Story, we each, sooner or later, if we remain lovingly abandoned to the Spirit, are addressed by the Spirit of Christ. We hear our name, and the One speaking it is the Living Word. This Christ is no longer clothed in flesh; this One is Pure Spirit. The call is a call of Love, awakening us to contemplative awareness of union with the Christ. We grow into progressively deeper levels of assimilating into our beings the Mystical Christ.
Again, this transition from fleshly-consciousness to spirit-consciousness is very difficult~I cannot put into words how difficult this conversion is.
The transition is progressive, for a completely new consciousness~state has to emerge, being transformed out of the energy of the previous states of consciousness.
The historical mode of the Christ offers us a concrete form. We tend to want to cling to materialistic, fleshly images. We want that security, maybe, in focusing on the fleshly Christ. But, like a child growing from early concrete thinking, through Grace we grow to release our attachment to the embodied Word, Jesus of Nazareth. This deepens and enriches the relationship.
This does not mean we eliminate devotion to the historical Christ Jesus from our faith experience. For the Incarnated Word is part of the eternal history~being of the Triune God. Rather, we enter a fullness of Christ which includes Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, I at times have powerful experiences of the historical Jesus Christ.
We have a leap of consciousness, a shifting of the relationship, a being taking into a fuller experience of Christ, but without leaving any true prior experience behind.
As all relationships, if healthy, grow up, why would it not be different between Jesus and you?
Have you had a time in which you were, even if for a moment, experiencing awareness of Christ as Pure Spirit, beyond all images and attachment to Christ as embodied, or incarnated two thousand years ago? How did you respond to that experience? Explain.
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