In the Gospel today, Mary is at the empty tomb, and the resurrection has already taken place. But she doesn’t know it yet. She is distraught and full of tears. The word that the Gospel uses to tell us that Mary is crying is the same verb used when we hear about the death of Lazarus; her brother. So, we know she is really upset.
Then, we are told that two angels ask her why she is weeping and she responds, because “they have taken my Lord and I do not know where that have laid him.” But Jesus was right behind Mary and asked her, “Who are you looking for?”, but she did not yet recognize that it was Jesus talking to her. Finally, Jesus calls her out by her Aramaic name and says, Mary! And she knew it was Jesus.
For me, it begs the question, how is it the case that Mary, who knew Jesus so well could not recognize Jesus. The key is that she was distraught. Mary was so filled with sadness, fear, and anxiety that she was sobbing uncontrollably. For someone in this state, it is difficult to see clearly.
But, what I find beautiful about this scene is the way that Jesus says Mary’s name and makes his presence known. It’s not angry Jesus. He’s not shouting, “Mary, its me!” He’s also not speaking with disappointment. Instead, he says her name with the utmost love and intimacy. How do we know this? Because, Jesus used her Aramaic name. This is how we know that Jesus is speaking with love and intimacy. He is happy to see Mary, but he doesn’t want her to be afraid. He wants her to trust in him, his love, and to be able to let go of him so that he can give her something more; the Holy Spirit.
Names are important because this is where we receive our uniqueness and our personal identity. So, when Jesus speaks Mary’s name, it is a profound image of him loving Mary and affirming who she is in his eyes.
What do we hear today when God says our name? Can we hear Jesus saying our Name? When he does, do we feel loved and affirmed, or, do we feel anxious and scared? Let us be like Mary Magdalene today. Let us open our ears and hearts to Christ, like Mary, so that when he speaks to us, we can receive the love and comfort of our Lord. When we receive the Eucharist today, let us hear Jesus say, “[Insert Name], I love you, I’m proud of you, and I will always be with you.” Let it inspire us to bring Jesus to those we meet today.