Working as a chaplain in care homes as I did the past eleven years, one learns the importance of remembering names. The value of doing so is being able to touch people at a deep level, with just a greeting, a smile, and saying the person’s name. This is especially effective with persons with dementia, which many residents have. Experientially, we are our names in a significant way.
In the reading, one of the New Testament resurrection narratives, Jesus reaches Mary Magdalene in her being and identity. The point at which the risen Jesus says, “Mary!” is precisely when the story shifts radically. At the start, Mary is filled with sadness and despair. Her teacher and friend has been killed by those in authority and her grieving itself has become violated by an apparent theft of the body. In her deep and now complicated grief, she cannot recognize the risen One standing before her. When Jesus speaks her name, she knows eternal life in the core of her being. Her despair becomes joy.
God knows each one of us by name. When we are in despair, the throes of loneliness or deep grief, God calls us in faith by name, touching us in the depths of who we are. We know peace and have eternal life.
God, who calls us by name, bless us with your hope. Amen. — TDW