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Participating in God

Cosmology: Part Two

Participating in God
Sunday, September 1, 2019

From the beginning until now, the entire creation as we know it has been groaning in one great act of giving birth. —Romans 8:22

Just this one line from Paul should be enough to justify evolution. God creates things that create themselves! Wouldn’t this be the greatest way that God could create—to give autonomy, freedom, and grace to keep self-creating even further? Healthy parents love their children so much that they want them to keep growing to their highest potential, even surpassing their parents. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t get too excited about the things that I did. You’re going to do even greater things!” (John 14:12).

For a long time, many people were satisfied with a very static universe. But now we clearly see the universe is unfolding and expanding. It’s moving until, as Augustine (354–430) put it, “In the end there will only be Christ loving himself,” [1] or as Paul wrote, “There is only Christ, he is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). Paul saw history as an ongoing process of ever greater inclusion of every lesser force until in the end, “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Christ is the Christian word for the One reality that includes everything and excludes nothing.

Franciscan scientist Sr. Ilia Delio writes about this cosmology as participatory movement:

Evolution impels us to think of God as drawing the world from up ahead, attracting it into a new future. Process theology maintains that God is neither simply an impersonal order nor simply the individual person who creates the universe. Rather, God and world are in process together; the world continually participates in God and God in the world. God, who is the primordial ground of order, embodies within Godself the order of possibilities, the potential forms of relationship that are not chaotic but orderly even before they are actualized. Nothing less than a transcendent force, radically distinct from matter but also incarnate in it, could ultimately explain evolution. . . . God is distinct from the world yet essential to it, just as the world is essential to God. Apart from God there would be nothing new in the world and no order in the world. God influences the world without determining it. This influence is the lure of ideals to be actualized, the persuasive vision of the good; it contributes to the self creation of each entity. . . .

Evolution brings with it the rise of consciousness, and as consciousness rises, so too does awareness of God. The human person is created to see God in every aspect of life, charged with divine energy, and to love what he or she sees. In this respect scripture is written daily in the supermarkets, nursing homes, playgrounds, post offices, cafes, bars, and in the scripts of home and community life. God is not hovering over us; God is the amazing depth, breadth, imagination, and creativity in culture, art, music, poetry, science, literature, film, gyms, and parks—all in some way speak the word of God. Every place is the place to find God, and God is in everything. [2]

[1] Augustine of Hippo, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 10.3. See Gerald O’Collins, Salvation for All: God’s Other Peoples (Oxford University Press: 2008), 222. Original text: “Et erit unus Christus amans seipsum.”

[2] Ilia Delio, Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Orbis Books: 2015), 143-144.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation, disc 11 (Franciscan Media: 2002), CD;

Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download; and

A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible, disc 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Image credit: Fish Magic (detail), Paul Klee, 1925, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: To see evolution as revelatory of the divine Word means that we come to see the various forms and rhythms of nature as reflective of divine qualities. —Ilia Delio
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