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4 Easter, Year B: Your Name and the Name of Jesus

Acts 4:5-12
Ps. 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

“Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni’ (which means Teacher)” (John 20:15-16). Hearing her name, she believed and cried out to the risen Lord.

Every moment of every day is an occasion to listen to the mystery of one’s name spoken by the risen Lord. “Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name” (Collect). The call of Christ is a summons reaching deep into one’s identity; it penetrates the chambers of the heart, the marrow of the bone, and the mystery of consciousness. To hear Christ is to feel one’s being vibrate with life and vitality, renewal and hope, forgiveness and strength to meet the days ahead.

Mary stood weeping at the tomb. In some ways and some measure, we are all living in “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). It may seem a bit old-fashioned to speak in this way, but a line from “Salve, Regina,” rings hauntingly true. “We, the exiled children of Eve, cry out to you. To you, we sigh, groaning and weeping in this valley of tears.” Even now, millions of human beings will start their day with bitter grief and a thirst for hope.

In the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus comes as the good shepherd. He gives green pastures and calm waters, revives the soul, and paves a footpath of righteousness. He protects and defends. He provides food and anoints with the oil of gladness. His goodness and mercy are everlasting, and his house a home forever (Ps. 23). Dangers persist, of course. “In the world you face persecution,” Jesus says and promises. “But take courage; I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). The wolf is coming for the flock, but the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:12, 14). “I am with you always,” Jesus says, “even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Jesus is speaking, calling us each by name. Hearing him, we discover the cause of our wellbeing. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). One’s name (identity) is not obliterated but assumed into the name of Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). There is profound personal affirmation “in Christ” that promotes proper humility. ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Ps. 115:1).

One’s name is drawn up into the many names of Christ. And who is Christ? In a passage on the purpose and power of Christian prayer, Tertullian lists, perhaps unknowingly, varied names and identities of Christ. “He calls the souls of the dead from death, gives strength to the weak, heals the sick, exorcises the possessed, opens prison doors, and frees the innocent from chains. He cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps our persecution, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, support those who fall, sustains those who stand” (Treatise on Prayer, Cap. 28-29).

The name of Jesus is your name. “He saves” and “He saves you.”

Look It Up: Hymn 535

Think About It: “Name him with awe and wonder and with bated breath.”


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