Saturday, April 14, 2012

What's in a name? (Part 2)

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

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

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 

John 20: 11-16

(For further reflections on this passage click here)

When was the last time you introduced yourself to someone? I find how I introduce myself varies according to where I am. The first thing I say is my name and then often I answer the question of 'What do you do for a living?' and that's where it gets a little complex. Sometimes I'm a Worship Leader (or if I want to confuse people a Contemplative Worship Leader). Other times I'm a Spiritual Director, a Musician, a Gamer, or even a Composer. The choice is determined by some judgments I make about how I think the other person will react. The common thread to all these titles is that they are all expressions of functions I perform, they describe some of what I do.

There are other words I use to describe myself. Some I have embraced, and others that I have allowed to get written as graffiti across my heart. Some of them have been carved so deeply in place that I rarely question their validity. I'm not going to list them because I don't want people telling me how they are wrong (or even worse how they are right!).

Mary Magdalene was definitely someone with a past. A lot of labels have been placed on her through the centuries. All we really know for certain is that Jesus cast 7 demons out of her. Pope Gregory in 591 C.E. first suggested she was a prostitute, a claim that has been restated in many movies and books, but we cannot say that with any certainty.

I love that Jesus simply calls her by name. She is not what she does. She is not what others have called her. She is not what she fears she might be. She is Mary. Everything else is secondary.

I've imagined that God says some pretty harsh things about me over the years. Most of which I've come to see are more about other people's efforts to control, vilify, or avoid their own fears than anything within me. God's love does not graffiti our hearts with hate.

Jesus simply calls each of us by name. Not by title, label or fear. Not by action or regret. Not by addiction or achievement. If we allow ourselves to hear his call and have the audacity to receive his love then, slowly, the graffiti will be washed away.

Listen to God call your name.

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