As we saw in yesterday’s post, when her visions were over, Julian of Norwich was left wondering two things: how she was supposed to respond to it, and what it all meant. We looked at the first of these questions yesterday, and saw that the message was just like that of the Scriptures’ summaries of God’s expectations: the two-sided coin of God’s economy of flow, love for God expressing itself in love for neighbour. Today we’ll end the series by looking at the second question. But, if you’ve been paying attention at all, the answer will be obvious: It’s all about love.
In the final chapter of her Revelations of Divine Love, Julian writes:
And from the time that it was revealed, I desired many times to know in what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after and more, I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same. But you will never know different, without end.
So I was taught that love is our Lord’s meaning. And I saw very certainly in this and in everything that before God made us he loved us, which love was never abated and never will be. And in this love he has done all his works, and in this love he has made all things profitable to us, and in this love our life is everlasting. (Ch 86)
It’s all about love. Love is the source, love is the content, love is the motivation.
Again, this should come as no surprise. In the very first chapter, she called her visions “a revelation of love [of] Jesus Christ, our endless bliss” and concluded that “we are preserved in love by the goodness of God just as truly in woe as in well-being” (Ch 1). Subsequently she saw that all things are made, sustained, and provided for out of love (Ch 5, 8); God gives us gifts out of love (Ch 10), and that so great is God’s love that “sin is nothing” (Ch 11) in comparison to it, and in the end God will “make all things well” (Ch 27-34). All that we experience in life, whether good or bad, is a manifestation of God’s love (Ch 15), just as Christ himself suffered on the Cross out of love (Ch 21). Sin is a lack of love on our part (Ch 37) born out of a blindness to God’s love (Ch 47, 51). I could go on, but I think the point is clear. As far as Julian is concerned, everything comes down to love.
As Christians, this should stand to reason, since, as 1 John puts it so beautifully and simply, “God is love” (1 John 4.8). We believe that love is at the centre of everything, the source of everything, the motivation of everything, the pattern of everything, and the calling of everything. We come from love and will return to love. Love is the answer, no matter the question.
With this simple finale, our Lenten walk with Julian comes to an end. Tomorrow, Lent transitions into Holy Week. But this story, from which Julian’s visions began, is too all about love. We see in it the ultimate outpouring of God’s humble, sacrificial love. As we witness once again the hard five-day journey from the triumphal entry to the cross, let us keep in mind that it is all about love, love manifest even as the world rejects it.
And so, brothers and sisters, let us remember in thought, in word, and in deed, that it is all about love. Love one another. Love one another. Love one another. Amen.
* Unless noted, all quotes are taken from the long text of Julian or Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love as translated and set in Julian of Norwich, Showings, translated by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh. The Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978.