I never found out as her eyes filled with tears and she quickly moved away.
Later, as we drove homewards, I saw her sitting in the foyer of a building lost in thought. I wondered where her thoughts were taking her.
Shortly after my mother died I was arranging goods in the cold room of the convent when I heard my name being called.
It was my pet name that only my mother used, said with the same accent and timbre. For one split second I believed the unbelievable.
On turning around I saw that it was just one of the Sisters. I was relieved but disappointed at the same time.
It conjured up for me many beautiful memories. I will have to wait to hear my name called that way in another life.
I thought of Mary Magdalene when she went to finish the embalming of Jesus’ body and found the tomb empty.
She heard a noise behind her and thought it was the gardener who had taken his body.
She asked where he had laid it.
Jesus simply called her by name.
The way Jesus said it, the accent, the resonance, and the timbre – all of these would have conjured up an image for Mary.
What would have rushed through her mind and heart in that one split second?
No wonder she became “the apostle of the apostles”.
Even more beautiful are God’s words to us through the prophet Isaiah: “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
The Hebrew people were delighted to belong to Yahweh.
He was their God and they were his people. They had a protector, a comforter.
God knew them so well that he called each by name. This was an intimate relationship, one where God knew them even before they were born.
“When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there.” (Psalm 139:15)
What does this mean for us today?
There is a God who is above and beyond us yet this God wants to meet us in the depths, in the stillness of our hearts.
This God is a powerful but an intimate God. Each and every one of us is called by name by God.
We have a mission to perform – it may be a humble one or a spectacular one. But it is ours to fulfil just as our name is ours. No one is able to do it as well as we can.
“Listen to me, O coastlands; pay attention, you peoples from far away. The Lord called me before I was born; while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.” (Isaiah 49:1)
Sr Elvera Sesta is a Presentation Sister who was principal of St Rita’s College, Clayfield, on Brisbane’s northside, for 20 years. She retired from the position at the end of 2008 but continues to teach at the college.
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