Season of Joy
Today's Season of Joy reflection on John 20:11-18 is by Nina O'Connor.
Currently, Nina serves as the Business Manager for Heart to Heart and has written the seasonal series Ornaments of Grace. As a former educator, she enjoys the opportunity to learn and to teach, especially about Sacred Scripture in whatever ways possible.
To read the full Gospel of the day, please visit: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/
The Call of the Beloved
John 20:11-18 Excerpt
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
Back in high school, eons ago, I was leaving a basketball game with a group of friends and was a bit downcast because a boy I had a crush on didn’t seem to even know or care I had come to the game. As my friends and I approached the exit, I heard someone call out, “Wait, Nina, I’ll give you a ride home.” I thought – as many teens have – that my heart would burst with happiness. But as we grow up and our love matures, we form deeper relationships. My mother, in her late 90’s was approaching death and lay in a coma-like sleep. Suddenly, she awakened, her face radiant with joy. She did not see those at her bedside, but she said, “Howard!” the name of my father and her beloved husband who had died over 40 years earlier. I would wager that he had called her name. Shortly thereafter, she entered eternal life. Mothers and fathers often wake out of serious slumber when one of their small children calls for them. Yes, we know the voices of those who love us and those whom we love.
Mary Magdalene, in today’s Gospel, recognizes Jesus when he calls her name. She was not asleep, of course, but her vision was shrouded in grief. She had faithfully and fearlessly stood by her beloved teacher when he had been put to death, a criminal’s death. She knew where he had been laid to rest, and she wanted to mourn his passing there. As if the past days’ traumas were not enough, she cannot find his body in the tomb and believes someone may have stolen even that.
Surely we can relate to her not recognizing the angels or Jesus at first. When someone dear to us dies, our eyes are not only blinded by tears but also by the pain of loss. This makes it difficult for us to see what is happening around us, what is our way forward. When that death is preceded by trauma, such as Mary experienced, then the grief is compounded. And now, she experiences another horrific blow when his body is gone and she has no idea where it is. She could not tell that the figures in white robes were angels when they asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She explained – probably through sobs – that her dear friend was missing, and then she turned to leave. As she was leaving, the person she assumed to be the gardener asked, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” She again told him that her Lord had been taken away, and she begged him to tell her where they had laid him.
Finally, she hears “Mary!” In that moment she recognizes the voice of her beloved and runs to hold him. Jesus, probably very gently, explained that he had something he needed her to do. Love made her eager to do whatever she could for him. So, Jesus sent her to the other disciples to tell them he had risen and would be ascending to his father in heaven. Her loving relationship sent her on this first of all the apostolic missions – to tell the Good News to Jesus’ friends. She went quickly and joyfully!
Do we hear Jesus calling each of our names? Of course, many things get in the way of our recognizing Jesus as he comes to us. But, do we spend time with him, get to know his voice, love him with all our hearts? When we are grieving, do we look for him even in what seems like emptiness?
When he calls your name, will you happily carry out whatever mission he calls you to – no matter how great or how humble? This is only possible, first of all, if we have grown to love him. And secondly, it is only possible if we listen to him because he does call each of us by name.
So, let’s find a quiet place, where we can become intimately acquainted with the One who loves us infinitely. Let us listen as he teaches us about the promise of the resurrection. Let us recognize the gentle, loving way he calls each of our names. And, when he does, let’s not waste any time in proclaiming to others the Good News of his resurrection!
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