Blame

One of the most striking things about Julian’s parable of the Lord and the servant is that Adam is assigned no manner of blame. “Of course,” we say, “the servant and Adam are one, and so Adam is not blamed.” Yet it goes much deeper than this. There is no blame involved because such an act would violate the very nature of the Lord in the parable, who is courtesy, overflowing generosity, and humility. He cannot blame, nor can he see Adam as an enemy that merits blame. His love is unchanging, one with his vision and action and response. He cannot say, “Well, Adam has fallen into the ditch and so he gets what he deserves; he has done it to himself.” Instead, the servant suffers everything with Adam, does not withdraw from him and does not condemn or blame him for any of his trouble. The Lord sees only Adam’s good will and explicitly attributes to this alone all the harm befallen him.

The picture Julian describes belongs to the Church she knew, but described from such a comprehensive, high point of view as to be almost unimaginable to the Church on earth, trapped in the midst of indescribable suffering just as Adam is trapped in the ditch. Yet, like God, the Lord in the parable does not blame or punish and sets no conditions on his love.

This is one reason why Julian’s later conclusion that “to be like our Lord perfectly is our true salvation” is one of the most challenging statements she sets before her reader. In a sin-beset world, blame and wrath and all that feed them come to us far more easily than does being like our Lord. Yet that we may be like him perfectly—this too he will accomplish.

 

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