‘He calls me by my name.’
‘Mary’—it was to Mary Magdalene that Jesus first proclaimed that he had risen from the dead and he did that simply, quietly, gently but confidently by calling her ‘Mary’.
How do we know the power of the resurrection in our own lives? Simply remember—‘He calls me by my name.’
According to John’s Gospel, Mary ‘turned’. Jesus literally turned her life around, by using her name, ‘Mary’. She recognised his voice, the call was simple, gentle, quiet but confident. Just as many of us experience the Holy Spirit in our prayers, our lives, we hear the call of God, of Jesus, because ‘He calls me by my name.’
Mary Magdalene, obviously, had spent a lot of time with Jesus and recognised his voice. The equally obvious parallel is that when we spend time with Jesus in prayer, and with help, we learn to discern the voice of Jesus and what God is genuinely saying to us, calling us to do and to be. We also learn to discern what are our own longings, our own fantasies of making the world as we want it to be. The first steps towards true discernment, of Jesus’ voice in prayer, through our experience, we are taught by Mary’s experience of Jesus.
By tradition, Mary was a notorious sinner, but she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, in the Pharisee’s house. Jesus accepted her as she was, He understood who and what she was, but he recognised in her, who and what she might become, through the Holy Spirit. Lazarus, her brother died; again, her tears moved Jesus with compassion and Lazarus was raised from the dead. Acceptance, understanding that brings peace and hope.
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet while her sister, Martha, was busy, she chose to be with Him rather than doing things for Him. Mary recognised that in simply being with Jesus, she experienced that God was with her as He is with us. In the garden when she heard ‘Mary,’ she could say: ‘he calls me by my name’.
What in fact happened was Jesus called Mary to a new reality, based upon God’s acceptance, and understanding. That is the Hope of the resurrection in our own lives. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to prove that each one of us is made in God’s image and God is with us. The story of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death is the story of how all that is worst in human nature—jealously, anger, religious certainty—combined to kill all that is best in the human potential to love, where we can be with Jesus. As Jesus is with us in guilt, regret, anger, the tombs of our own experience, remember ‘He calls me by my name’ to a new reality.
There is much speculation as to when and how we can go back to normal. We can never go back; normal will never return and we will enter a new reality. That is the hope, promise, power of resurrection in our own lives. That is the real Hope of Easter, that human love in which we know, feel, experience that God is with us. That love is stronger than any natural phenomena, even death itself.
Mary Magdalene shed tears of grief in the garden. Jesus called her ‘Mary’ and the tears flowed, but now tears of joy and hope. Hope, all because—‘He calls me by my name.’
The Lord is risen from the dead. Alleluia alleluia
He is risen indeed. Alleluia alleluia