The Feast of Mary Magdalene
In the Byzantine tradition saints and holy people are often given a descriptive title based on some virtue or action, e.g., the holy women, the three Marys, who came to anoint the dead Jesus are called “the myrrh-bearing-women” and Mary Magdalene, of course, is the central “myrrh-bearer.” She is also called “the Apostle to the Apostles.”
She might also have another title based on a verse in the song of Songs which we just heard: “I sought him whom my heart loves” – repeated three times and then, ﬁnally, “I found him whom my heart loves.” The Gospel passage recounts for us this seeking and ﬁnding by Mary “of Him whom her heart loves!”
Mary knew Jesus very well – she had been in his company among His faithful followers, heard Him teach and felt the power of His words yet she did not recognize Him. It was only when Jesus said her name, perhaps very gently “Mary” and in that moment she was able to see and call Him lovingly “Rabbouni” – my teacher. At that moment she was received into HIs presence and He, in turn, entered into hers – my brothers and sisters, being called by name is at the heart of belief, our belief.
From this encounter, we are led to see something similar in our own lives. Shortly, we will approach the altar to receive the Holy Eucharist. How could we ever recognize in a piece of unleavened bread the very person of our Lord Jresus Christ? It is only because He calls us – you/me – by name in our depths, into our hearts that we can stretch out our hands and say, “My Lord and My God.” By His calling us by name, we, in turn, can call Him by name: “My Jesus, My Lord!”
Just as Mary Magdalene met the Lord, so do we, so we have, so we will and we can say in truth, “I have found Him whom my heart loves!”