"Then our good lord Jesus Christ asked: "Are you well satisfied that I suffered for you?" I said, "Yes, good lord, all thanks to you. Yes, good lord, blessed may you be!" Then said Jesus, our kind lord: "If you are satisfied, I am satisfied. It is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to me that I ever suffered passion for you; and if I might suffer more, I would suffer more." (Chapter 22)

There are few things I love better than to hear of people's experiences with God. One of my friends has shared with me that through the last several years of her life, while she has been going through difficult times, Jesus has shown up and sat on her bed just so she knows she's not alone. I believe her story; I slow down to imagine what it must be like to have Jesus come and sit on my bed. It's a comfort to me to know that God cares enough about my friend to manifest Himself to her in this way.

One of the gifts that Julian of Norwich brings to her readers is her direct experience with God. In Chapters 22-24, Jesus aks Julian if she has seen and been satisfied by His suffering for her as shown in the previous visions. When she replies in the affirmative, He is delighted. If she is able to truly understand the depth of His passion, she will be able to grasp the extent of His love! What catches me is that there is no desire to make Julian feel guilty by revealing the magnitude of the pain and travail that have been endured on her behalf. Rather, like a child who has spent the whole day crafting a special card for his mother, Jesus is eager to have something to present which shows the immensity of His deep love.

In our culture, a lover does not have to go through a fiery ordeal to win the hand of his beloved. We've left jousting and duels behind us. Kingly fathers do not ask for great deeds to prove devotion of would-be suitors. In this season of "the Bachelor," all that was required of the groom was that he be open to connecting with one of the ladies on the show, not that he scale a mountain, or collect a rare bottle of perfume, or retrieve a golden apple guarded by mythical creatures.

I wonder if we're left the poorer without these stories of heroic suffering, of the means and the proof of showing powerful love.  If they were more a part of our collective experiences, it might be easier grasp what Jesus is talking about. I want to believe that I'm deeply loved in this way. I want to understand the cross in these terms and to tie into the joyful bliss of Christ who takes on himself the suffering and sorrow that tugs at my life, and presents it, like a trophy, at my feet. But I have to admit, it's hard to get my head (or my heart) around this.

Still, this is Julian's experience and so I'm sitting with it, pondering...and open. Because it seems that Jesus strongly desires this for each of us-as much for His delight as for mine.
4/8/2011 09:17:24 pm

So maybe we need a caution about 'cheap love' as well as one about 'cheap grace'? Worth pondering, the depth and texture of Christ's love...


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