Easter and the Power of the Holy Name of Mary

14 And when she had thus said, she [Mary Magdalen] turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
I6 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

~John 20:14-16

St. Mary Magdalen recognized the Risen Lord only when He called her by her name, Mary. Just saying the name Mary snaps her out of her anxiety and restores her ability to see Christ. I think there’s a mystery here. Catholics honor the Holy Name of Mary (after the Holy Name of Jesus, obviously); we even celebrate a feast day in honor of it (Sept. 12). It seems that almost all of the women who followed Christ were named Mary; there are at least three of them, and it’s hard to keep track of which is which.

It’s as though the identity of the Christian believer–the identity of the believer in the Risen Lord–is to be Mary, the one who receives Jesus and lives her life attending to Him. In the first instance, the Blessed Virgin Mary received Him in innocence at the Annunciation when He became incarnate. In the second instance, St. Mary Magdalen received Jesus in penitence* and discipleship as He went about building up the Body of His Church. Lastly, we receive Christ by imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Mary Magdalen, filling out the company of Mary’s who attend to Him. The Christian life is a Marian life.

On this Easter Sunday, let us invoke the Holy Name of Mary to strengthen our faith in the Resurrection of Mary’s Son. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Mary Magdalen, and all of the other holy Mary’s pray for us!

*I think Mary’s literal turning about in the passage (“She turned herself”) bears the moral or tropological sense of metanoia and turning away from sin.


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