If you love someone, set them free

If you love someone, set them free February 9, 2016

Millions of posters offer this advice, which is attributed to various advice givers.  It is advice given to people who fear the end of a relationship.  These words, often followed by a promise of return are meant to to give strength to the crestfallen. It says to trust in fate and give up any desire to control the person they love.  Of course, phrases such as “I would do anything for him” or “I would go to the end of the earth for her” provide the opposite advice.  Such phrases encourage every effort to be exhausted and never to admit defeat.  Many a love story creates this arc of relentless pursuit that eventually pays off or in some cases goes to the dark corners of life.

John 20:17

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to my brothers and say to them,  “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

As I have written elsewhere in this book, it is not we who catch God, but God who catches us.  Here, Jesus makes this point to Mary. Even with their intimate meeting at his resurrection, Jesus is never to be her commodity. He is not to be “held on to” nor should he ever appear to “fit in our pocket” or be “at our beck and call.”  A similar idea presents in the story of the transfiguration where Jesus wants to hold on to his mountaintop experience by building houses for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. (Mark 9:5) Clearly, God’s intention was not for them to rest comfortably in this “spiritual high” but to use it for momentum to come down the mountain and set towards Jerusalem where Jesus would die. Christ asked his closest friends to “set him free” rather than “hold on to him” and they did!

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