Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out. . . . I have grasped you by the hand. 

Julian of Norwich lay deathly ill at age thirty when she received a series of mystical visions of Jesus’ passion. In them, Julian beheld the sorrows and anguish Jesus experienced on the cross but also the profound joy he felt in suffering for her and for the whole human race. A few days later, she miraculously recovered and wrote down her visions in a book called Revelations of Divine Love. The title is apt because the visions illustrate God’s immense—even overwhelming—love for us.

During one vision, Julian held in her hand something small, “no bigger than a hazelnut.” But God revealed to her that it was “everything which is made.” Imagine that—vast galaxies and cloudy nebulae all compressed into the size of an acorn! For a moment, Julian saw the universe through the Creator’s eyes. Suddenly, she worried that because of its littleness, it might be harmed or suddenly collapse in on itself. But God reassured her that “it lasts and always will” because he loves it.

If it seems odd to be speaking of hazelnuts and the cosmos during Holy Week, remember Jesus’ words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). God loved something so small—something that fits in the palm of his hand! God loved us so deeply that he gave his only Son to rescue us! Isn’t it staggering that Jesus would suffer on the cross for us?

In her visions, Julian saw that through the cross, Christ “wraps us” and “encloses us” in his tender love. Through the cross, he grasps us by the hand (Isaiah 42:6). He lifts us up from the pit of sin. And he embraces us. That’s the headline for Holy Week: “God is love!

This week, as you accompany Jesus on the way to Calvary, remember Julian’s vision of the hazelnut and God’s staggering love. Like Julian, you can ask for your own glimpse into the passion—a glimpse of the suffering of Christ and of the deep joy in the heart of God. And you can ask for the grace to see the world through the lens of Jesus’ love.

“Lord, I open my heart to receive the vastness of your love, which you have wrapped around me.”

Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14
John 12:1-11
Isaiah 42:1-7


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