“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
John 20:18

Proclaiming Our Love (Mary Magdalene)
I like to imagine God speaking my name in that tender way in which Jesus spoke the name of Mary.

-Br. James Koester


This week, we’re looking at what it means to be friend of Jesus, and we’re using various people from John’s Gospel, who we know were friends of Jesus. And I’m looking today at Mary Magdalen, who’s one of my favorite characters in the Gospel of John. And specifically the story of Mary’s encounter with the Risen Lord at the empty tomb on that first Easter day.

You’ll know the story: Mary goes to the tomb, finds it empty, notices somebody in the garden, thinks it’s the gardener and asks, “Where they have put the body?” And the gardener speaks her name, “Mary.”  And it’s in the speaking of Mary’s name that she recognizes the Risen Lord in the person of the gardener. And she then rushes out to tell the disciples, to tell the apostles, “I have seen the Lord.”

One of the things that I like to do when I’m praying, is to use the Jesus prayer, which you may be familiar with. You can use a prayer rope if you have one. Or you can count it off on the knuckles of your finger, or whatever. But simply to repeat the prayer.

                  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful unto me, a sinner.

Sometimes I’ll reduce that to simply praying the name, Jesus. And repeat it over and over and over again. Jesus. Jesus.

Occasionally, I’ll do what I call the reverse Jesus prayer. And rather than praying the name of Jesus, I’ll actually pray my own name. James. James.

We all know that when people say our names, they can say it in all sorts of really different ways. James (said sternly), is very different than, James (spoken gently). And so I as pray my name, I like to imagine God speaking my name in that tender way in which Jesus spoke the name of Mary. And when I hear God speaking my name – James, James, James – like Mary, I have an encounter with the Risen Lord, and I can then rush out to the world and say, “I have seen the Lord.”

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus


  1. Jeanne DeFazio on February 4, 2019 at 10:15

    Wow! Jeanne Jeanne Jeanne that is a great slant on prayer. Often when I listen for Jesus still small voice inside my heart it makes me happy to hear it. But to repeat your own name as if Jesus is whispering inside my heart. It’s the most beautiful thought to begin each day. God bless you.

  2. Mary Anderson on March 23, 2018 at 10:29

    My name is Mary. Growing up my name was “Mary, Mary, quite contrary.”
    When I attended the church, that I am now a member of, I was asked my name. The response was, “Mary, that’s a good name.” And it is. The more I read the Bible, the more I think so.
    I too, say the Jesus prayer each night before I say the rest of my prayers. It brings me comfort hearing Jesus’ name and giving myself to him.

  3. Pamela Ann Quarstein on March 16, 2018 at 23:40

    N A M E
    He N ever forgets your name.
    A lthough you may doubt, do not
    M y prayer is to call your name, Jesus, and that I can
    E ach day hear You calling my name.

  4. David John Drew on March 13, 2018 at 09:56

    Lord Jesus, the Holy Name,

    I struggle in myself between faith and disbelief. I have seen your wonderful works and effects in nature and heard your voice in the events that surrounding me as the days, months and years pass by in my life. And yet, I have failed to communicate to others that which I have been witness to, I have tried but it seems that I face a world that does not care, a world that will not hear, I see a people who prefer to sleep, to ignore, to forget, to cast off anything beyond themselves. Lord, I ask for your support and strength to persevere, and to proclaim your message to the world.

    Lord, you chose to appear first after your resurrection to your devoted disciple and follower, Mary Magdalene, and in this, I see a great significance and meaning. You give yourself freely and equally to all people, women as well as men. In this instance, you chose a beloved and beautiful woman to carry and convey the news of your rebirth into the world – giving credence to the faith and devotion of all women – recognizing them for their fortitude, sincerity and capacity for love.

    Lord, I live in a nation where women have been the object of cruel discrimination, who have been often denied the opportunities to live fully because of their gender, they are the victims of violence and oppression. I pray that now and in the future – that the mantle of power and the direction of our nation and the world will be equally shared by both faithful women and men in a fruitful, active and dynamic partnership for the benefit of all people – for the prosperity, safety, health and security of the world.

    Lord, you whispered my name when I was born, and I was christened in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, – You spoke my name as I was baptized. Lord, we find our origin in your mind and come into the world by your powerful command. To truly know you, we must know ourselves. Lord, I pray that all people will come to find your name inscribed on their hearts… and turn in love toward you.

    Lord, I am saying a prayer for your devoted Franciscan sister, Sylvia, and our dear friend, who passed away suddenly today. May she rest in eternal peace with you.

    + Amen. Pax Christi – David

  5. Peggy Volk on March 12, 2018 at 15:31

    Ridicule me, feel sorry for me, turn away from me in frustration. It will not stop me. I have seen the Lord!

  6. Ruth West on March 11, 2018 at 10:10

    Such good helpful thoughts! I, too, like just calling the name of Jesus, often three times. You have opened my understanding to hearing Him call my own name, just as he called Mary’s. Thank you.

  7. Bev Cone on March 10, 2018 at 16:45

    Interesting comments today. Another thing that I have been thinking about, is the way others say the word God, Lord, Father, etc., as they begin a prayer aloud. It has given me new insights.

  8. Dianne on March 10, 2018 at 14:13

    My mother told me I was named after a song in the 1950’s about Diane. I believe it was a Jim Reeves version of “My Diane” theme song to the movie “Seventh Heaven” Post WWI, a silent version & a dramatic version. This is my meditation of Jesus speaking my name to me, It is lovely & the romantic movie “Seventh Heaven” is mystically sweet.

    • Dianne on March 11, 2018 at 10:55

      Smile for me, my […]
      I’m in heaven when I see you smile (see you smile)
      Smile for me, my [… ] (my […])
      And though everything’s dark, all the while
      I can see you, [… ] (bom-bom-bom)
      You have lighted the road leading home
      Oh, pray for me, when you can (when you can)
      But no matter wherever I roam
      Smile for me, my [… ]
      I’m in heaven when I see you smile (see you smile)
      Smile for me, my [… ] (my [… ])
      And though everything’s dark, all the while
      I can see you, [… ] (bom-bom-bom)
      You have lighted the road leading home
      Oh, pray for me, when you can (when you can)
      But no matter wherever I roam
      Smile for me, my [… ]
      My [… ]
      [varied with inclusive language all “very remarkable”]

      “Diane” – also known as Diane (I’m in Heaven When I See You Smile)- is a song by Ernö Rapée and Lew Pollack, originally written as a theme song for the 1927 silent movie Seventh Heaven.

  9. Claudia Booth on March 10, 2018 at 08:44

    Yes, yes, yes! What a wonderful thing to hear the Lord call your own name. It certainly gets my attention!

  10. Victoria on March 10, 2018 at 06:10

    Simply put yet so profound. Thank you Brother James.

  11. Meg on March 9, 2018 at 22:02

    Lord, Lord, Lord; please give me Open, Listening ears, to hear you calling my name to service, reminding me that through you, all things are possible, even for an introvert like me.

    • Bishop Hollywood on March 10, 2018 at 01:05

      It’s a beautiful thing to have the Lord call your name. Just think, when someone calls your name, their focus is on you and you only. So with that being said you have a friend that sticks by you closer than a brother

  12. James on March 9, 2018 at 21:55

    Jesus was blessed to have had so many wonderful woman in His life.

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, give praise to the risen Lord. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, give praise to His name.

  13. Deborah Smith on March 9, 2018 at 20:44

    As a child, my name was Debbie. When I got married 34 years ago my husband told me I was more of a Deborah. I embraced the name and find it comfortable. When I started praying the reverse Jesus prayer I kept hearing Debbie, Debbie, Debbie. So many emotions right now. Jesus knows me as a child.

  14. Damon D. Hickey on March 9, 2018 at 09:01

    Before Mary Magdalen ran out to tell the disciples she had seen the Lord, she tried to hang onto him. He had to tell her to quit holding onto him, because he still had to leave and go to the Father. That meant she was still going to have to grieve his physical departure from her. She probably didn’t know what he meant, and anyway she was overwhelmed to find him alive. But at some point, she must have had to struggle again with losing him and to learn to live with this new reality of knowing he was present even in his absence.

    • Joan M on March 10, 2018 at 19:26

      Damon thanks for your comments. I am reading the book “the meaning of Mary Magdalene” by Cynthia Bourgeault, and your comments explain that encounter very well. Thanks.

  15. Ethel Nelson on March 9, 2018 at 08:06

    I hadn’t heard of the reverse Jesus prayer. What a wonderful sound it will be to hear my name as Jesus would say it. I’m going to try it.


  16. Louise L. on March 8, 2018 at 23:41

    I really like the fact that Jesus knows me and each one of us by name. Name is personal, intimate and the part of family. Jesus, our Lord makes an inclusive invitation every day to love Him more than anything else. And He proves her love to us by dying on the Cross for us. The most amazing, sacrificial Love for all to all.

  17. James Rowland on March 8, 2018 at 20:25

    My favorite spontaneous prayer is: “Lord open my eyes to see your gracious hand in all your works” Then I look–I see something in the world in a very different way—always and suddenly filled with great beauty.

  18. Dorothy Lancaster on March 8, 2018 at 19:37

    I have always been deeply moved by Jesus gently calling Mary Magdalene and in my ministry have encouraged others to hear God calling them by name. I have never used my own name in prayers but now I will! Thank you for starting my day so prayerfully, gently, and hopefully

  19. Diane on March 8, 2018 at 19:27

    Brother James,
    Thank you for your tender words-very calming and peaceful

  20. Susan on March 8, 2018 at 18:49

    Susan. Susan. Susan

  21. Bryan Cook on March 8, 2018 at 18:32

    On this International Woman’s Day, I explored the Mary’s of the Bible using the findings of Steve Shirley (http://jesusalive.cc/ques414.htm) who found Mary’s named 54 times in the New Testament.

    Three Mary’s were at the Crucifixion …..Mary His Mother, Mary Magdalene His Close Friend and Mary Mother of James (and Joses/Joseph). Mary of Bethany a very Devoted follower washed His Feet, Mary the Mother of (John) Mark risked her life to open her home to for Christian Prayer and Worship, and Mary sent Greetings by Paul for her had labours in the Christian cause. In the Old Testament Miriam is equivalent to Mary, so we have two more Mary’s: Miriam the Sister of Aaron and Miriam the daughter of Mered.

    So the Biblical Mary’s embody the qualities of Mother, Sister, Daughter, Love, Friendship and Devotion, Sacrifice and Labour.

    I will try using Mary as my repetitive prayer to comfort me on the rest of this Lenten journey.

    • Diane on March 8, 2018 at 19:22

      Thank you so much for that, such good insight.

  22. eleanor stevenson on March 8, 2018 at 18:01

    Thank you for suggesting the Jesus prayer.

  23. eleanor stevenson on March 8, 2018 at 18:01

    Thank you for suggesting the Jesus prayer. I need it.

  24. marta engdahl on March 8, 2018 at 17:50

    thank you

  25. marta engdahl on March 8, 2018 at 17:44

    Thank you! Calling for Jesus to come, and hearing my name called can be a “call and response” sequence. What a lovely prayer. . .

  26. Lynn on March 8, 2018 at 17:29

    That was lovely! I have been using the Jesus prayer and modifications of it for about 40 years. I love the idea of using my name in prayer.

  27. John David Spangler on March 8, 2018 at 15:53

    Thank y0u, Brother James, for your insightful meditation. The Lord does speak our names, both sternly and gently, but always lovingly. As Keith Aldred observes, God knows each of us. May I and “each one of us repond to Him”.

  28. Keith Aldred on March 8, 2018 at 14:07

    God knows each one of us. May each one of us respond to Him.

    • Bill Cochran on March 8, 2018 at 21:21

      Bill Cochran
      Very well said and very true. Adding a little bit more: I agree that God knows us.
      Looking at Genesis 1:2, “And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”. I believe we can understand that the spirit of God is the Holy Spirit and
      He not only knows each one of us intimately, but His spirit is always with us–literally. So, if we wish to stay connected to Him. Then prayer (talking to Him)
      Is so important. God bless and let the spirit of God continue to flow within us.

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