WHAT'S IN A NAME
“But Mary (Magdalene) stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).” (Jn 20: 11-16)
Mary Magdalene only recognizes the risen Lord, Who apparently looked different in His glorified, risen Body, when He says her name, “Mary.” Apparently, He was the only one who said her name like that, – or perhaps He was the only one who addressed her by her name at all, at this point in her life. Perhaps everyone else simply called her “woman” (which wasn’t rude, BTW, as it sounds in today’s English, but the equivalent of our “Ma’am”). Perhaps that is why she does not recognize Him at first, when He calls her “woman,” and asks why she is weeping.
Note that in another post-resurrectional appearance, on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24: 13-32), it takes the Lord a lot more “work” to make Himself “recognizable” to the two disciples, Luke and Cleopas. Although He drew near to them, and walked with them, and expounded to them “the Scriptures about himself,” – at which point their hearts “burned” in them, – it is only at His blessing, breaking, and giving of the bread to them that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Couldn’t He simply have called them by name, as He did with Mary Magdalene? I don’t know, of course, but apparently, (forgive me, as I hypothesize), it seems that to these men, calling them by name would not have been enough, for them to recognize Him. They probably “had” names, in their society, and Jesus was not the only one who recognized and articulated those names.
Be that as it may, I thank You, Lord, that today, in our beautiful Tradition, we are given to “recognize” You both in the blessing, breaking, and distribution of the Bread, and in the naming of our names, at Holy Communion. As we approach the Chalice, the priest names each of us, saying, “The servant of God (Name) partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ for the remission of sins and life eternal.” I thank You, Lord, for knowing me, and calling me, by name. “You just call out my name,” I sing to You today, in the words of Carole King, “And you know wherever I am / I’ll come running / to see you again…” (Carole King, You’ve Got a Friend)