The Easter season is 50 days--from Easter until Pentecost. As noted last week, the world returns to the normal daily round of work and play, triumph and tragedy. As Christians we still blithely mouth our “Alleluias”, at least on Sunday. What if we were really living like we believed something changed at the empty tomb?
Something did change for Mary of Magdala even before that first Easter morning when she went, with other women, to the grave to do the final anointing of her beloved teacher and friend. Jesus had healed her of 7 demons. (Luke 8:2) We don’t know what they were. Perhaps physical or even psychological issues. That doesn’t really matter. Her life was changed enough that she left Magdala, where she was most likely a prosperous merchant, (certainly not a prostitute) to follow Jesus and minister to him with the other women.
On that first Easter, the other women found that the grave was empty and fled. Mary, remained behind to grieve. Probably an even deeper grief than before because she thinks that someone has desecrated the grave. She cannot even do the last loving thing possible. Her heart is broken.
When she sees a figure, she assumes he is the gardener and says, “if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him”. It is then that Jesus calls her by name and she recognizes him. (John 20:15)
Jesus speaks her name and she is changed. She understands that something new has come. Her heart is awakened. She “went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”
This image has been making the rounds on FB since Easter. “Between the time Mary Magdalene met the Risen Christ…and when she announced his Resurrection to the disciples, [she] was the church on earth, for only to her had been revealed the Paschal mystery.” The church is only active and viable when we tell the story of the Resurrection. It is when our Alleluias resound in the broken world and our faith is seen in our lives that the Gospel is proclaimed. Mary, known as the Apostle or Evangelist to the Disciples was indeed the church in the world by herself, until she shared the Good News.
It was Jesus’ lovingly calling her by name (John 20:16) that made her recognize him. Did your parents have a pet name for you? Or was there a special tone when they said your name lovingly or proudly? Can you remember a deeper tenderness in their voice that told you that you were loved?
Imagine Jesus saying your name in that way. Revelation says we will have a new name, perhaps Jesus is calling you by a new name today. Calling you to reimagine yourself as God sees you. Listen for that voice. Hear that tender tone say your name.
Next week, we’ll meet someone else whom Jesus meets right where he is-in the midst of anger and hurt.