The Gospel according to John (20:11-18)
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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, how many times do I fail to recognize You in my life? Help me, as we celebrate Your resurrection, that I may see You right by my side every day, as You promised. Amen.
Nothing is more special than being called by name by someone we love. Somehow, hearing our name on the lips of someone who is special to us has so much more meaning. I read somewhere that is because we see that our name is “safe” on the lips of that person whom we love. It is a wonderful image. We respond to our name, knowing that the other has only love and care for us as well.
Each of us may have different “names” that we respond to. We are each a child of God, but we may be a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a brother or sister, and we may have a pet nickname that is especially special to us. For me, I think of those closest to me, and their names for me, and no matter what my mood may be, when I hear one of those names, I know that I must give my attention. God is that way, too. He wants to call us by the name that shows His great love, so that we stop and give our attention to Him.
In today’s Gospel, we see the way that Mary Magdalene responds to her name, when Jesus calls to her. She was in the depths of sorrow at Jesus’ death, so much so that she did not recognize His voice outside the tomb. But, when Jesus called her by name, her eyes were fully opened, and she truly saw Him. Immediately, her sorrow left her and she was filled with joy. That is what Jesus longs for each of us as we embark on this Easter season.
This Lent has been filled with much sorrow over the continuing pandemic, and how it has forced so many changes on our day to day lives. We do see hope, but for many, it continues to be a time of worry, fear and despair. Into that maelstrom of negative feelings, Jesus appears, and He is there, speaking our own names, and calling us to Easter joy. But, how do we get to Easter joy in the midst of such trying times?
We do it by pausing and reflecting on what a great gift God has given us. Through the Paschal mystery that we celebrated during the just-concluded Easter Triduum, He has reconciled us to Himself, and reaffirmed His gift of His own Holy Spirit, alive in our hearts. We do it by remembering that He truly does call us by name, today and every day, and that all we need to do is be willing to walk on the path that He has set before us. It is not promised to be easy, but it is promised to be worth the journey.
Let us go forth today and, like Mary Magdalene, share the good news that we have seen the Lord, and then share that joy with others in our lives who need to hear of it. Let us not despair, despite all the worry and concern we may have, but know that the same Jesus who calls each of us by name has a plan in mind and all we need to do is ask for the grace to cooperate with that plan, so that others may hear their names, safe on the lips of our loving Lord.
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank You for calling me by name today and every day. Help me to listen for Your voice, and share Easter joy with all whom I meet. Let me trust in Your wisdom and Your plan for me, and let me cooperate with that plan as best I can. Amen.
Action for the Day: Reach out to someone and wish that person Easter joy. Ask that person what you can pray for or otherwise help with.