Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”‘ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’
Every year, as I read these words, I feel an incredible emotional charge sweep through me. I often feel as though I want to burst into tears of joy. These five words are, for me, some of the most powerful words in the whole of scripture. It is at this moment that it becomes clear that Jesus knows each of us by name, and that he loves us with a love that defies description. As the desolate Mary stood before the empty tomb, contemplating the further horror and indignity that had been inflicted upon her Lord, she is confronted with a new reality … Jesus is risen from the dead! But, this ultimate act of divine power and authority has not created an impassable gulf between Mary and Jesus, rather it has brought them even closer together.
There are times in all of our lives when we wonder where God is? National and natural disasters wreak havoc in the lives of people; personal tragedies wreak havoc in the lives of people; the cruelty, vanity and greed of humanity inflicts so much pain on those who are perceived to be weak and ineffective. As we hear these tales of horror, we look on feeling both helpless and hopeless. We are sometimes driven to ask, ‘Where is God in all this?’ Today we are given the answer. Today we see Jesus standing before the desolate and the dispossessed and calling them each by name.
It makes such a difference to us when someone remembers our names, doesn’t it? The use of our names makes us feel special, it opens our hearts and minds in a way that can never be achieved by the most generous acts of anonymous charity. The use of our names opens the door upon a new level of relationship. We have been remembered, and that simple demonstration remembrance makes us feel warm and special.
Jesus is constantly standing before us and calling us by name. Even when we are feeling at our lowest and most fearful, Jesus is standing before us and calling us by name. Jesus is ever inviting us into a special relationship with him, a relationship that will fill our hearts with the love and hope that can come from him alone.
The challenge for us is quite straightforward. When the desolate times come, we need to set aside the arrogance of self-belief and self-reliance and we need to take our weakness to him. We need to let him call us by name, to take our hands and to lead us into the closeness and comfort of his loving embrace. Let us pray that that peace and joy may be known to all who are struggling to cope with the pressures of life today.