Look again

Julian’s Chapter 51—in our modern editions, roughly 11 pages totaling almost 3100 words—is the fruit of her nineteen years and nine months of meditation on the puzzling revelation of an enthusiastic servant who suffers a mishap while rushing to do his lord's will. The parable of the lord and the servant is so often cited as the center, the high point of Julian's writing, that we can fall into the habit of just flicking the pages. Like a well-known detective story, we know how it's going to go and how it will turn out.

But it is salutary to us — and a proper reverence to our Lord — to re-read the parable as if we'd never seen it before. And a good idea to re-read it also in the Middle English, so as to capture the sound of Julian’s voice. After all, Julian was truly upset: at the end of Chapter 50, after writing again about her quandary over how God sees us in our sin versus how the Church teaches it and how both are true, she says: “I wept inwardly with all my might, searching in God for help, meaning thus: ‘Ah, Lord Jesus, King of bliss, how shall I be comforted? Who is it that shall teach me and tell me what I need to know, if I cannot at this time see it in Thee?’”

“Then our gracious Lord answered in showing very mysteriously a wonderful illustration of a lord who has a servant….” Years later, the Lord tells her that she should “take heed to all the qualities and conditions that were shown in the illustration even though thou thinkest that they are obscure and uninteresting to your sight.”

So Julian, in Chapter 51, has left us as it were a transcript of her lectio divina. We can toss it off as Julian playing the detective, but it would be behovely to us to use the parable as lectio. We don't need to remember what happens next, but rather let each word as it comes sink into our consciousness. The rest of our reading of the Revelations will be greatly enhanced.

Recent Issues

January 2023

December 2022

October 2022

September 2022

July 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

February 2021

January 2021

December 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015