Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “… 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 20:16-18 (NRSV)
It is Easter Sunday. Mary Magdalene is overwhelmed by grief at the death of Jesus and is weeping at his tomb. She sees that it is empty. She talks to someone she thinks is the gardener and wants to know where Jesus’ body has been taken. Then the person calls Mary by name and Mary recognizes him. This is Jesus talking to her! He is alive! Jesus then sends her to tell this good news of life and resurrection to the disciples.
This gospel text reminds us that Jesus called Mary by name; he knew her personally. Our text also points out that Mary recognized that it was Jesus who was with her. And her excitement at Jesus’ presence with her filled her with joy to tell others.
Sometimes the circumstances and stresses of life can be so overwhelming that they cause us to grieve and feel alone, as if no one really knows us or understands us. This Easter reading reminds us that we are not alone; we are never abandoned as we grieve the trials and challenges of life.
For Jesus knows each of us personally and calls us by name, just as he did with Mary. He is our risen Good Shepherd who knows each of his sheep by name and shows his loving care and the relationship he has with us all the way to the cross. It is by his precious death and resurrection that we are made whole and given new life, while his promise “I am with you always, to the end of the age” gives us the blessed assurance that he is always with us, no matter what. Like Mary, we can know our Savior and recognize him as the one who heals our wounds and invites us to call upon him and live in relationship with him.
Jesus told Mary to “Go…and say” to the others that he is risen; these are his words to us as well. Jesus sends us out to proclaim this good news of his resurrection. Jesus is alive! He calls us by name! He knows us and loves us, and he wants us to know him and love him! He is in relationship with us, and calls us to live in relationship with him! He sends us to be his witnesses in word and deed to a world that needs to know his love!
May the joy of the Resurrection be yours in this Easter season as you ponder what Jesus and his resurrection means to you. May you join Mary in proclaiming: “We have seen the Lord. Jesus is alive!” And may your relationship with our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ make a difference in your life, in your relationships with others, and in your service in Christ’s name.
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!
+Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek