Mary Magdalene Meets her Personal Savior

Did anyone ever ask you whether Jesus Christ is your personal savior? Once, when I was asked that, it occurred to me to ask my questioner whether there is any other kind of savior.

In today's gospel, at any rate, Mary Magdalene meets her personal savior. We know that because he calls her by her personal name. This in turn recalls to her the personal relationship which she had with Jesus and so, remembering that, she is able to recognize Jesus and Jesus as risen.

Mary knows him when called by name, as he had previously called her into wholeness of life, freed from demons, freed from sin. He had met her as a person in relationship, and she had received entrance into the kingdom. She didn't have to undergo a discernment process, file an application and an autobiography or undergo testing. It all happened to her in an encounter between persons.

His call of her by name restored her to God's kingdom, the community of heaven. As she knew and was known by Jesus, she left behind the fatal depersonalizing knowledge that she had mastered as a sinner, which had led her away from God and God's community. The new personal knowledge of Jesus restored her. The way of salvation for her was personal loving knowledge of Jesus.

it is the same way of salvation for us of course. We too are being restored in the same way, through Jesus' incarnation of himself in the church and in his followers. They meet us in loving personal contact; we call each other by name. And in this process the whole creation is being restored. Once it was broken, but all the pieces remain and are being gathered into one again in Jesus. None has been lost and all are being restored to each other. And we ourselves are being restored, restored to each other.

This is the only way a broken creation can be restored, through loving personal relationship. Unfortunately, those who would restore or repair the world often leave precisely this out of their plans. Indeed the problem is often these plans. All the scientific socio-economic schemes we can devise are worth nothing without the personal. Indeed, without it, they are often fatal. If the plan does not first and foremost serve us as persons, then we are forced to serve the plan, and that is slavery to sin, as Mary was enslaved. In fact, our schemes deal mainly with groups and constituencies, with classes and nations. None of this is wrong except as it leads us to deal with one another impersonally, as members of impersonal forces or as their slaves. Then they extend and amplify the brokenness.

How then shall we recognize when God is acting? By the personal, of course. Is the other person or institution dealing with us as a person or as a manager, manipulator, schemer? Do we serve the plan or does the plan serve us, as Jesus served the lost, the broken, the sinful and possessed? When Jesus comes to us in the fullness of power to free us from possession and sin, we will recognize him by his calling us by our own true name.