Revelations of Divine Love – Revelation Thirteen, pt.1

We are NOT gathering this evening. When we reconvene next Tuesday, we will be discussing Revelation 13 of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. pp.19-26; Short Text §§13-18; Long Text §§27-40. This Revelation is the heart of Julian’s message that “All will be well.”

Revelation Thirteen: The Question of Sin (pp.19-20, §13 short text, §27 long text)

This Revelation of Julian begins with the revelation that sin is the only thing that holds her and us back from experiencing God and becoming one with God. For without sin “we should all have been pure and like our Lord, as he made us.” p.20. But she wants to know, why is there sin? Why is there this separation? Why did God not prevent this condition? These should be our questions as well.

In this Revelation, Jesus only partially answers the question. Jesus will not give her (or us) all the answers to the question but will require from us a certain trust that we do not, cannot not, and will not know the answers, and that is ok.

Jesus tells her that “sin” is everything that is not good. But as the “not good” sin has no real substance because it is not created. We only can know and see sin by the suffering that it causes. (Think of a water container with a hole in it. The hole exists only as the negation of the container, and is only known by the defect (or suffering) when the water leaks out.)

She realizes that sin has some benefits because it “purges us, forcing us to know ourselves, and to ask for mercy.” It is sin that gives us a longing for God. And it is Jesus, by and through his Passion, who is a comfort to us in this process and who continuously whispers to us “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Revelation Thirteen: The Answer of Christ’s Compassion (pp.20-21, §13 short text, §28 long text)

Julian sees that in our sin and our suffering, Christ has compassion (lit. “suffers with us”) on us. In Christ’s suffering on the Cross he becomes at-one with us and we with him. Christ’s Incarnation and Passion bring about the atonement. In Julian’s Revelations, God is not judging sin and setting Jesus up as a sacrificial victim, rather God is having compassion on us because of sin, and having Jesus suffer with us. Julian gives us another way to understand the Cross.

Within this view of the atonement, Julian sees that in Christ identifying with her suffering and she with his, she also has compassion for every person’s suffering and failings. And just as Christ’s compassion on her binds Julian to God, so does Julian’s compassion on all of humanity bind Julian to others. The compassionate love of God in Christ that bridges the separation between the Divine and the Human, works through us and bridges the separation between all of us. Loving God and loving your neighbor all arise out of the compassion that Jesus has for us if we will but see it.   

No Gathering Tonight. Please continue to read and ruminate on Julian’s Revelation Thirteen. See everyone next week.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

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