With the advent of cell phones and caller ID, we usually know who’s trying to get in touch with us. If they are on our list of contacts, their name pops up where the device rings. In the olden days, when I was a kid, you had to listen carefully to the person on the other end of the wire. In some cases you knew the identity immediately, because it was someone whose voice you knew very well, others needed to announce themselves.
The reading in the gospel of John proves that point clearly. Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
The resurrection story isn’t new, and sometimes hearing it for the umpteenth time can dull us to its significance. Not so this year, God desired to show me a subtle, but life altering portion in this tale. In the verses that preceded these, Mary had found the tomb empty, returned to the frightened disciples and told them what she had seen, or in this case, not seen. A few ran to the garden to confirm her story, but hastily headed home. Mary stayed, weeping and mourning, until someone she was unfamiliar with appeared. In her grief, she explained to him what had happened, but she still didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name. “Mary!” Jesus said. At that moment, she knew exactly who it was. It would be difficult to imagine a more tender, and joyful scene, in all literature. The friend she knew and loved was alive, and had spoken her name.
In an attempt to modernize this account, imagine that Jesus is trying to reach you on your phone. Does his name/picture appear? Is he one of your close contacts, or a friend on Facebook? If the number doesn’t register with you, do you ignore it, or assign it one of the responses that your device provides? Responses like: I’m on the other line; I’m driving; I’m in a meeting or any of the other built in options. The question to be answered is, do you, like Mary, know his voice so intimately that he needs no introduction? I believe that throughout our lives, Jesus is calling our name, but do we recognize him, or do we let it go to voicemail? Give it some serious thought, and prayer. He is calling, listen, know him and respond!