When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found it open and empty, her grief was intensified because her soul was totally laid bare by the loss of Jesus; His life and now his body.
In her despair, she couldn’t recognize Jesus. When he said her name, “Mary”, she knew in her depths that this was Jesus. What’s more, in that one word…her name, she understood that Jesus knew her through and through, loved and accepted her wherever she was. As he spoke her name, it was all encompassing and she could grasp the depth of his love perhaps more than she had ever understood before.
We may never feel Mary’s experience of the unconditional love of Jesus, but there may be times in our lives when we can get an inkling of how that feels.
The experience that comes to my mind happened when I was about nine years old. In our house, winter or summer, my sisters and I were always barefoot in the house. One day I went to take something out of the fridge and in the process, I broke my mom’s favorite pitcher. It was a wedding gift and we were never allowed to even touch it and here I was standing at the fridge with shattered glass all around me. I started crying so loud, it was close to screaming. My mom came running. She called out over my wailing, “Are you hurt?” I said, “No, but I broke your favorite pitcher,” and wailed all the more. She brought a chair over and had me sit so she could move me and the chair away from the broken glass, as she continued trying to calm me down.
She said, “It’s only a pitcher, don’t you understand that you are worth so much more to me than any pitcher?” The truth was that I didn’t realize that at all. I never understood that. As we got the glass cleaned up and the trauma subsided, I went away feeling like my heart was as big as I was because I grasped what she was saying.
There have been many suggestions why Jesus told Mary not to cling to him because he “had not yet ascended to the Father….” (Jn 20; 17) I have no answer either but I do know that these are the moments we want to cling to; this sense of being known and valued and loved.