Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Miraculous Naming (Pascha, Easter Sunday)

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”).
 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. - John 20.14 - 17

Today, the Risen One appears, glorious in the Resurrected Life. Today, He tramples down death by death  and wins for us the victory over the grave. Today, dear friends, He brings us new life!

And as we sit in our pews and around our dinner tables, as we smooth our ties and skirts, as we shuffle feet in their new sandals and clink our wine glasses - He calls us each by name. Today, as we celebrate, the Good Shepherd whispers into our hearts that He knows us. That He recognizes us in this bright new life. He names us - and the naming is the life.

Mary did not recognize Jesus when he found her. And it is a finding - he meets her, he encounters her. She is weeping for the loss, for the promise she believes has been broken by death. Where have they taken him? She wonders to the angels. I imagine her searching, anxious, looking in every direction while tears stream down her face and her hands knead into each other. Where have they taken him? Where is Jesus? 

And He comes to her. In that deep moment, the mystery shakes the universe. Just when we most believe that he is gone, he comes to us. Just at the moment I bring my eyes to the icon of Christ in blessing at the right side of the altar, in McComb, Mississippi, in the small Orthodox church? Just at the moment when I most believe I will never belong, He looks back at me. He comes to us. 

Jesus said to her, Mary. Jesus says to me, Hilary. 

And we turn, Mary and I, crying, "Rabboni!" "Teacher!" And we cry out in joy and fear and trembling. We fall to our knees at the sight of him. Because He names us. Because He knows us. Because He comes to us. 

And today, with Mary, I cry out to you: I have seen the Lord! 

And He has given me life. 

And the most blessed Pascha to you. 



  1. Goosebumps at these words, I too cry out to Him, "Rabboni!" and He makes me new. May your Easter shine with the brilliant light o the resurected Christ, and may you live Easter every day, resting in the grace of His shed blood. Bless you, Hilary.

  2. I wrote about this last Easter. That He knows my name and the freedom in that knowing. A blessed Easter to you Hilary.


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