The painting above by Fra Angelico is entitled ‘Noli Me Tangere’ which means ‘Do not touch me.’ These are the words the Risen Christ spoke to Mary Magdalene when, after at first mistaking him for a gardener, she suddenly recognised him.
The accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus contain several other incidents in which the disciples do not recognise him at first. Some say the failure of the disciples to identify Jesus is because they did not expect to see someone who had so obviously died.
However, I’m not so sure about this because from our own experience we know that it usually takes time to accept that a loved one has actually died and we occasionally mistake complete strangers for them.
Just like the first disciples we modern day followers also frequently fail to recognise Christ in our midst. It is true that these days he always comes in a hidden guise, but by now we ought to have realised that he is quite often among us even if in a concealed way.
Let our Easter resolution be to become more and more aware of Christ’s presence among us and help us to make strangers feel always welcome.
Father Alex SDS