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Why Jesus Allowed Thomas Touch Him But Did Not Let Mary Magdalene

When Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, he cautions her that she should not touch him because he has not yet gone to the Father. Yet the following week in the upper room, he invites Thomas to put his hands into the wounds. Why the difference? Why was Thomas allowed to touch the risen Jesus, but Mary Magdalen was not?

Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary interpret the first passage (Jn 20:17) this way: I will not leave you again; be not in a hurry to touch me; you shall all have this pleasure. I will remain with you sometime, before my Ascension. Announce my Resurrection to my apostles. You shall see me again. This is the interpretation most modern commentators put upon this place. Others suppose that Magdalene imagined he was risen from the dead to live with men as before, like Lazarus. He addresses these words to her to disabuse her of this notion.

Thomas, on the other hand, apparently feared to go to Jesus, so Jesus was offering proof that he was alive and not a ghost or figment of Thomas’s imagination. He was saying, “Thomas, prove to yourself that I really am hereby touching your hands to the wounds I sustained on the cross” (cf. Jn 20:24-29). In other words, Jesus was responding individually to different expressions of doubt.