One of my favorite gospel stories comes from today’s liturgy. We know the story, having heard it so many times:
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her. (Jn 20:11-18)
The thing I love about this gospel is the dialogue between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Jesus approaches Mary and says, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Like He didn’t know! Obviously, Jesus knows why she’s weeping; He knows who she is; He knows for whom she’s looking. So why does He ask, and why does He call her, “Woman”?
I believe it is because Jesus wants us to know that, like Mary, we are named, and we are known intimately by the Blessed Trinity.
Mary doesn’t recognize Him. She thinks He’s the gardener. Now, wouldn’t you think after all that time together, she’d easily identify Him? No. Until He calls her, “Mary!” she remains separate, unknowing, but not unknown. Upon hearing her name though, she immediately sees it is Jesus, as if blinders fell from her eyes.
Calling someone by name, especially by first name, implies an intimacy – a knowledge of the person. If we walked up to a stranger and called them by name, we would be rebuffed for not “knowing” them. “Do I know you? Have we met? I’m afraid you’re mistaken.” We couldn’t get past go.
And so it is with us. God knew us by name before our parents did. He wanted us individually by name in time for all time – His unique creation. “I have called you by name: you are mine.” (Is 43:1) “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (Is 49:1) He calls us by name. Do we hear Him? Do we recognize Him? Do we run to the intimacy of His embrace? Do we know Him as He wants to be known?
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rv 3:20) He knocks at the door of our hearts and calls us by name.
So today, and in the days ahead, let us recognize and respond as Mary Magdalene did and open the door of our hearts to invite Him in.
Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen! Anne