Daily Archives: April 16, 2022

Call them by name

“Abrazo de Jesus” by Felix Hernandez http://www.felixhernandezop.com/internet.php#

Scripture: John 20:11-19

11 “Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.


He called her by name, and everything changed.

Weeping, inconsolable, desperate for any information anyone could give, she was stopped in her tracks with one word. Her name.

She was unfazed by two angels standing in a tomb that she just saw was empty. When they were no help, she turned toward a gardener, and cried out, “I do not know where they have put my Lord.” She was searching frantically. She watched him suffer. She watched him die. She could still smell the scent of the oils she had poured over his feet (although this is ambiguous, there is a strong argument by Diana Butler Bass among others that claim that the Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet is this same woman known as Mary Magdalene). The feet she had washed with her tears and hair were pierced in front of her. He was dead.

And now he was gone. Adding insult to shameful injury, he was gone. She must have turned her head again after asking the gardener about him because when he spoke her name the Scripture says she had to turn again to face him.

“Mary,” he said, and everything changed.

Reading between the lines, I am pretty sure that she said “Teacher!” then threw her arms around him and they embraced (Why else would he say, “Do not hold onto me,” unless she was already holding onto him?).

Why didn’t she recognize him? Was he transformed in some way? Was his resurrected form intrinsically different? Was she just too frantic to notice? Was it just too improbable to believe? Whatever reason she did not recognize him, that all changed when he called her by name. He saw her, and she saw resurrection. In that moment she experienced the new life in Christ. She was the first person to experience Easter. She was the first person to witness Resurrection, and she knew it in one beautiful moment when he recognized her first. He called her by name and new life began.

Call her by her name. Call him by his name. Is it too much to ask? She might have transformed in ways you may not recognize. He may have cut his hair shorter than you’re used to. They might use awkward pronouns that you’re not used to using. Call them by name, and you might give them new life.

Call them by name, and they might recognize love that they feared was dead. Call him by name – maybe  not the name you are used to, maybe not the name you know. Call him by the name he has chosen, not the dead name he has left behind.

Call her by name – maybe in clothes you find odd, or after treatments you do not understand. Call her by name because she has earned that much. Call her by name because Christ calls her by name. She has agonized in a prison she was born in. She has hidden for so long. She is fearful every time she claims her name. She is fearful of the strange looks, the scornful whispers, the outright violence that is done to women and men like her every day.

Call him by name.

Call her by name.

Call them by name.

That they might know that they are beloved.

Call him by name.

Call her by name.

Call them by name.

And in that moment they may know eternal life.

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