Jesus Calls Us By Name

by Sister Cheryl Jacobs

But Mary 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 around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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. 

(John 20:11-18 NRSV)

We are now celebrating the greatest transformation ever seen in this world. We are filled again with joy at the remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. But we can only imagine what Mary was feeling as she approached the tomb that first Easter day. Grief and despair over Jesus’ death, confusion as to why it even happened, and perhaps also wondering what would happen next because Jesus had hinted at these things.

Mary already knew Jesus’ power to transform people and situations. He had already done so significantly in her life. But like we do, she is quick to believe what she sees with her physical eyes – someone must have taken the body. Her grief and confusion have clouded her real sight and what she knows of Jesus.

With a single word, her name, “Mary!”, Jesus again transforms grief to joy, despair to hope, and confusion to clarity and purpose.

Are you weeping as you face situations that bring sadness or uncertainty? The resurrected Jesus, who has overcome the power of sin and death, continues to reign in heaven and earth, and he calls each of us by name. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Let us not “see” only what appears at the surface. Let us be transformed by knowing that Jesus is indeed the crucified and resurrected God and has promised to be with us through all trials.

Joyful Eastertide!

Prayer: Gracious God, in times of sorrow and confusion, when hope itself seems lost, help us to remember the transforming power of your love and that you call us by name. We give thanks for your promise of true joy that we can only now begin to imagine. Amen.