Once again this morning, Mary Magdalene is the major player in the gospel story of the resurrection of Jesus (JN 20:11-18). Finding the tomb empty, she first encounters two angels who ask her why she’s weeping. She answers that someone has taken Jesus away and she doesn’t know where he is. Then she notices someone else sitting there, whom she takes to be the gardener, who asks her the same question but adds, “Whom are you looking for?” She is so distraught she doesn’t answer the question but rather begs him, if he has moved the body somewhere, to tell her where so she might take him herself. The puzzling part is that she doesn’t realize that this man is actually Jesus. One wonders (as theologians and others have done for the past 2,000 years) how his resurrection body can be so different from the body he died with, such that she wouldn’t recognize the person she loved so much. Theories are plentiful – from Mary’s lack of expectation of seeing him alive and her state of mind at the moment to scientific/esoteric answers to the question – but that is not my subject here. What always calls to me is the answer that Jesus gives to Mary’s inquiry. He simply says, “Mary.” She recognizes him immediately at the sound of her name.
Have you ever noticed the difference of effect on you when your name is spoken if the speaking is done by someone you love and who loves you? Are there nicknames you have been accustomed to that sound funny out of the mouths of people outside the circle of your loved ones? Are you able to tell, just by a hello, when a person you love answers the phone whether s/he is happy, sad, calm or upset? There’s more to recognition, it seems, than meets the eye.
Today is a good day to consider how love changes us, what love teaches us about ways of knowing that have little to do with externals. And then we might make an effort to sharpen our senses to assure that we will be alert to the moments when God calls our name.