Recently I’ve discovered Julian of Norwich, a 14th century female mystic and theologian. I love her optimistic view of a loving, compassionate God and her radical ideas about universal salvation.
And I particularly love the way she talks about Jesus as mother. Listen to this:
“The human mother will suckle her child with her own milk, but our beloved Mother, Jesus, feeds us with himself, and with most tender courtesy, does it by means of the Blessed Sacrament, the precious food of all true life…. The human mother may put her child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother Jesus simply leads us into his blessed breast through his open side, and there gives us a glimpse of the Godhead and heavenly joy, the inner certainty of eternal bliss.” *
Julian also describes Jesus as our mother in whom “we grow and develop,” and our mother in mercy and grace who “reforms and restores us.”
This liberated mixing of male and female are exhilarating to me. By describing Jesus with female traits, she both exalts women and emphasizes Jesus’ ability to transcend typical gender boundaries.
Does Jesus transcend gender when you think about him? Do you question whether a male Jesus can understand concerns and sorrows that are particularly female? Are you comfortable thinking of him in mothering imagery?
*quotes taken from Eleanor Mclaughlin’s essay, “The Christian Past: Does it Hold a Future for Women?”