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Center for Action and Contemplation
A Benevolent Universe
A Benevolent Universe

Evolution: God’s Love in Action

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Franciscan sister and scientist Ilia Delio finds evidence for a benevolent universe in evolutionary change driven by love:

To say “God is love” is to say that the name God refers to the divine energy of love that is dynamic, relational, personal, and unitive. God does what God is—love. Rather than seeing God as a separate being over the world, we can say that love-energy is the stuff of existence. . . . Where there is energy of attraction, union, generativity, and life, there is God. . . .

God is the name of personal divine love emerging in evolution, as consciousness complexifies and persons unite: “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Evolution reveals a newness to God because love is always expressing itself in new patterns of relationships. . . . The dynamic fountain fullness of divine love means forever the newness of world; God is ever newness in love, and thus the world is ever new as well. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that “you cannot step into the same river twice,” meaning change is inherent to life; every act bears an essential newness. . . . Divine love is not a river of stagnant water but a fountain fullness of overflowing love, love that is forever awakening to new life. [1]

Delio seeks to reconcile a good and loving God with the ever-present suffering in the world:

There is no doubt that suffering and violence abound in the crevices of life, but suffering is not a punishment of a vengeful God. God does not abandon us; we abandon God by . . . running after little gods. God lives deep within us, as the center of love, but we are often [dismissive of] this inner center and drawn by the little gods of power, success, status, and wealth, everything we create for ourselves. . . . The theodicy question is not why God allows bad things to happen to good people but why we abandon God in the face of suffering. If God is love, then our only real hope is in God, because hope is the openness of love to infinite possibilities and new life. . . . This God of love appears in Jesus of Nazareth, a God who gets radically involved in the messiness of the world to be God for us. . . .

To have faith in a God of unconditional love is to realize how intimately close God is. So close we forget God’s presence. In his own day Jesus was immersed in a violent culture, a culture of conflict and anxiety. But he also knew of the deeper truth hidden beneath the surface of human judgment, namely that this broken, anxious world is oozing with God. He asked us to have faith, to believe that the reign of God is among us and within us. [2]


[1] Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013), 74, 76–77.

[2] Delio, Unbearable Wholeness, 83, 84.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled – Sandia Mountains (detail), 2022, photograph, Albuquerque, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge photo.

Image Inspiration: when i began photographing birds during the pandemic it was meant to fuel a creative need. as i continued it began to fuel a life need, a missing connection to nature. i not only felt a need to see different birds but to see the change in nature around me. a connection to my own heritage – wondering again and again if my ancestors roamed the same fields, came across the same animals or took meditation in the same plots. —Benjamin Yazza (photographer), Albuquerque, New Mexico

Story from Our Community:

I’m inspired to live the truth of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Therese writes that when she read about the lives of the saints, they were full of great deeds and important people. She knew that she was too small to do great things, and so she decided to do little things with great love. Every day, I have opportunity to do little things: forgive someone who was rude, forgive someone who hurt me, and of course, forgive myself. —Catherine F.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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