One of the reasons I enjoy reading a variety of things is because of new ideas that come my way. Of course, I read quite a bit of religious and spiritual material. But I like a range of other things, too. I actually enjoy reading about contemporary science discoveries. And the whole psychological world fascinates me, mostly because all human beings are psychological beings. I read a piece recently that combined most of these different areas.
The article was written by a Franciscan Sister, Sr. Ilio Delio, and it contained the gist of her comments to a gathering of religious women. On the surface this seems like a boring read. In fact, I found it fascinating. In the first place, I was quite intrigued by the theology inherent in the text. By theology I mean her view of God and how God works in our world. Clearly, she is well versed in the scientific way of viewing our world---our cosmos. I am always inspired by someone who has a deep faith in God and a mature, contemporary understanding of the world in which we live.
Let’s listen to a few words from this Franciscan sage. She says, “A dynamic universe provokes the idea and the understanding of a dynamic God.” I like the combination of these two ideas---that of a dynamic universe and of a dynamic God. The two do seem to go together in my mind. And then she adds another sentence that must work very well in her speeches. Delio notes, “This is not a stay-at-home God.” Surely this line is a guaranteed laugh-getter. I laughed. I agree: God is not the kind of Being who would stay at home. God is active in this dynamic universe.
Delio pushes on to flesh out her understanding of this dynamic Being who is at work in this dynamic universe. She says, “This is a God who is deeply immersed in a love affair with the beloved, the creation which flows out of his divine heart.” This is powerful stuff for me personally. I very much like her language. She talks about a God who is deeply immersed in a love affair. Of course, that is a daring, perhaps, jolting description of God. But I think it makes a bold case for the God she knows and the God I want very much to know.
I appreciate hearing about a God who is so passionate that God would become involved in a love affair. The reason God is so deeply immersed in this love affair is precisely because of the intimate relationship God has with the universe---with God’s creation---and each of us within that creation. The creation flowed out of the divine heart of God. That is to say, each one of us and the entire universe comes from the deepest core of who God is, namely, God’s heart.
This says to me that God bears each one of us at the deepest part of the Divine Self---the very heart of who God is. And it does not stop there, according to Sr. Delio. She comments that “To say that God is love is to mean that God is eternally and dynamically in love.” How else would you posit a divine love affair unless that God who created us continues to hold us dear to the Divine heart? This is not a momentary thing by a stay-at-home God.
To the contrary, the God dynamically immersed in a love affair with God’s beloved is a God who is eternally in love. This God does not take time-outs. This God does not periodically visit the world and then check out for a time. Rather, our God is eternally and intimately involved with all of us all of the time. We may not know it because we pay no attention. But God is there nevertheless all the time and everywhere.
When we begin to pay attention, we come to know something about this divine love affair that has been going on all the time. We come to know the power and the profundity of this Divine care. The dynamism of the Divinity is directed toward ourselves. We can experience the “just-for-me” presence of God. In our heads we know that God is “just-for-everyone.” But that does not lessen the fact that God is here for me---right now and right here.
Most of us probably do not know what is involved in a love affair. The love affair with God almost literally knocks us off our feet. We are left gasping for air and for more! It seems almost unbelievable and yet is quite undeniable.
There are only a couple responses that are appropriate. In the first response we are utterly grateful for this gift of grace. We have been loved at our core that leaves us never needing more. And secondly, our response should be to take us out of ourselves and into the cosmic love affair with God. We desire to join God in dynamically caring for the world and all those within the world.
This is the power of God’s love affair.