Have you ever had a “nickname” that was particular to only one person or maybe your family members? Does it sound strange if someone else uses it? Does the inflection in the way a special person says your name enhance the meaning? Of course it does. It’s all about relationship. Today’s gospel, on this feast celebrating Mary Magdalene, is a good example of that reality. (JN 20: 1-2, 11-18)
Mary Magdalene has gone to the tomb where Jesus has been laid and found it empty. She is bereft and runs to tell the disciples that someone has moved the body. She then returns to the tomb and remains there weeping. When the person that Mary mistakes for the gardener asks why she is weeping, she does not recognize him as Jesus until he says her name: “Mary.” It must have been the way he said it because – at least in our time and place – Mary is perhaps the most common name for a girl. It has to be the way he said it that made her recognize him, the one she loved more than anyone else in the world, the one who loved her unconditionally.
Each of us is loved that way by God. It may take a lifetime for us to recognize it, to hear it reverberate in our heart. We ought to listen closely as others speak our name to feel the love that accompanies the sound of it, to come to know the beauty that we are, unique in all the world.