In Old English the word for gospel was god-spell, meaning the “good news” or “glad tidings” that was preached aloud to the people. The god-spell contained the good news of the redemption of humankind through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Likewise, Julian’s Revelations are filled with the good news of God’s unconditional love and tender care for all humanity. In her mystical experiences, Julian saw Christ on the cross, taking upon himself the sins and sufferings of the whole world; yet during the entire time of her visions, she never saw Christ vengeful, or angry, or casting any blame on us for what he endured. On the contrary, she saw only his pity and compassion for what we have to suffer! Christ reassured Julian that by his sufferings he had “overcome the fiend,” that is, the forces of evil. And Julian was given a mystical understanding of Christ’s great joy in saving us. He even told her: “If I might suffer more, I would suffer more.”
And then, just as Julian thought the visionary Christ before her was about to die, his face changed suddenly from a deadly pallor to the most blissful look, and she became ecstatic! In that timeless instant, Julian was privileged to experience the total transformation of suffering in Christ’s glorious resurrection, just as Mary Magdalene had on Easter morning. Again and again
during her account of her Revelations, Julian bears witness to
her very personal experience of the “good news” of the gospel, which she was longing to tell everyone – in the same way that Mary Magdalene and the other women ran to tell the disciples that they had “seen” the Risen Lord.
It has been said that there are two types of gospels: “the little
gospels,” and “the big gospel.” Surprisingly, the little gospels consist of the four canonical books written by the evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The big gospel is the accumulated story of all our lives, as we, the deaf, the blind, and the lame, hear the liberating word of God, have our eyes opened to see the Lord actively working in our midst, and choose to walk with Christ wherever he leads us. Then we, too, are
granted divine wisdom about the transforming power of even the most incomprehensible suffering in our lives. We become able to speak our own “good news” of how we have been healed and forgiven, loved and taught, and forever changed by our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We may not see visions or hear Christ speak to us directly, as Julian did. But to each of us, Christ gives revelations and graces exactly suited to our deepest and most heartfelt needs.
By meditating on Julian’s Revelations, we may come to experience her visions and locutions as truly as if they were our own, imagining what she saw and heard. Then our hearts may become more open to receive our own personal revelations, which will permeate every aspect of our lives. And that is exactly what Julian wants for us – and why she wrote her gospel:
to share the “good news” of God’s inordinate love.