God of the Im/Possible
By Ilia Delio
With the resurrection of Jesus Christ, time is interrupted and we are startled by a deeper reality: God is doing new things. Underneath a world racked by war, racial hatred, gender discrimination and global warming, the power of divine love is swelling with new life, symbolized by the risen Christ. The resurrection does not mean that Jesus was resuscitated from the dead but that he rose from the dead. As Saint Paul wrote, “if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then our faith is our vain” (1 Cor 15:14).
Early Christians had such faith in the risen Christ that they threw themselves wholeheartedly into defending the faith amidst the pagan Roman empire. The late historian Henry Chadwick recounts how the emperor Nero rolled Christians in tar and lighted them as torches because they would rather undergo a tortuous death than renounce their faith. When the aristocrat Perpetua and her maid Felicity was arrested for being Christian, her father begged her to renounce her faith rather than suffer martyrdom in the coliseum. Her answer was simply, ego sum Christianus: I am a Christian. Her pregnant assistant, Felicity, while in labor pains, was stripped bare and sent into the coliseum to face the lions. While awaiting her fate a guard jeered at her, saying, “if you are suffering now, imagine what you will suffer when you face the beasts.” Felicity answered, “now I suffer but then there will be another suffering in me,” indicating her wholehearted faith in the risen Christ. Throughout the ages and into our own time, faith in the risen Christ has evoked a power of freedom and trust that death does not have the final victory. The Archbishop and Saint of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, was repeatedly threatened with death for defending the people. His powerful words of resistance rose from a deep inner place of radical faith: “If I am killed, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.” This is a declaration of resurrection: I will not die but I will live in my people.
One who lives for others, lives for God. The human person is like a wave-particle duality; the particle aspect is the particularity of our lives, and the wave dimension is the breadth of our relationships. While I am alive, I am changing and growing from one moment to the next. This is true of both my body and my character; indeed, the whole pattern that is “me.” Because I am always investing my future in another, while I am alive, that other is “me”—my many selves that I am becoming but after I am dead, that other is you because my own self is woven into yours. We live on in our relationships, and in and through our relationships, we are continuously created. In a sense, this is the fundamental meaning of the resurrection. The experience of Jesus raised from the dead ignited his disciples with a new fire of hope; the experience of Jesus, alive in a new way, set the world ablaze with an evocative love. The disciples experienced something new and wonderful: God is doing new things. They realized the power of God and the presence of Jesus were one and the same and this power was now among them; indeed, in them. Violence, slavery, oppression, all were exposed for what they really are: thwarted gods opposed to life. In Christ, a new light shone, a power present from the beginning of time but now seen more brightly as the power of hope, promise, and new life ahead. The disciples realized this power and began to speak and act as if a new world was dawning on the horizon.
Today, Christianity has become a religion of the empire, enervated of its transforming power. Rules, laws, dogmas, judgments, lines of division, all have weakened the Christian message and reduced it to a routinized formula of abstract concepts and beliefs. But Christianity is about God in matter; a power of divinity shaping matter and changing matter through the energies of love. Something is going on in this world of constant change and it is the restless God seeking to become fully united with all creaturely life in a deep and personal way. We find ourselves in an unfinished universe of immense proportions where suffering and death are built into the system of new biological life. We are here after 13.8 billion years of death and major extinctions. God will always find a way to push through unto new life. This is the symbol of the risen Christ; not only does life have a power of unquenchable love but we are becoming something more unified in this incredible process of evolution, despite the powers of opposition and entropy. God has a vision of wholeness, and we are invited to realize this vision as artisans of the future.
The Good News of the Risen Christ is this: Let God matter! Let God matter your bodies, your minds, your hearts and souls; let God matter the trees, the flowers, the gentle breeze, the sun and moon and stars and every living creature. Let God matter because matter is the mirror of God. Look into this mirror of matter and see what you believe. If you see Christ, divine love shining through the beauty of all things, then believe what you see; that God is restlessly seeking to become more. Become what you see and realize that you are the body of Christ.
Let us leave our tombs of darkness, our stifled and protected lives, closed in by giant rocks of hardened hearts or wounded egos or deep fear and anxiety. God is the infinite potential of infinite love and to believe in God is to believe in that which is not yet; the possibilities of what we can become. So throw yourselves into the heart of God – let go and see what happens when faith steers the power of the will. Venture forth into the unfinished world where God is struggling to be born; let us not settle for mediocrity but let us liberate our minds to imagine a new world. This is the Christian way; the way of the im/possible, the hidden potential of infinite love within us, calling us to respond in faith, hope and love: Faith in God’s infinite power of love; hope in the power of life before us; and love as the energy of resistance, creativity, novelty and dreams.
Is Christ risen from the dead? Maybe. The only testimony that makes this Christian faith real is our response in faith:
I believe in one God, one human family, one planetary community, one body, one love, uniting all in beauty, for God’s infinite love is infinite, fecund and beautiful.
I believe I am entangled with all earth life and all living creatures,
I believe this future is the relational unity of all things in God,
I believe this earth has a future entangled with God,
I believe the heart of God is love.
Beliefs guide us, faith strengthens us but love—well, love is the core energy of life. Where there is love, there is no death, only future. Love raised Jesus from the dead; love heals and makes whole. It is time to stop talking about the risen Christ and begin to love in a radically new way. The power in our midst to reimagine a new world is love.
I think it’s fair to say that divinity is not, nor has ever been in the ruling imperial power structures of the world (political, military-industrial, economic, and religious). It is these power structures, and those who identify with and invest in them that make the human species a danger to itself, and the entire planet. That was so in the time of Jesus, and remains the same today, pitting the same dark forces against the message of the gospel that conspired to murder him at the outset, from birth, throughout his ministry, and on the cross. Such made the resurrection necessary. It is largely among the disenfranchised that Christ gathers his little flock, which will one day rule the earth, level the playing field, and reign in eternity with him as “kings and priests.” So let the Putin’s and the Musk’s of the present global order boast that “he who rules AI (technology) rules the world.” Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again to reverse the age old order that weaponizes money, power, and technology to uplift the few over the many who suffer under them. If not so, then surely our faith is THE leading vanity among humankind’s pantheon of godless vanities. And we, the most hopeless and pitiable of earth’s creatures. Maranatha.
Your vision expresses exactly what we need today to live the reality of Christ, the recasting of our Faith with ideas at once contemporary and eternal. Pax et bonum.
Beautifully put! Christ is risen, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; meaning Christ is doing the work of God. But how? – by the advocate he promised he would send – the Holy Spirit. I believe the Holy Spirit is what Christians call the cosmic energy necessary to perform love; love is the Holy Spirit made tangible.
So hungry for this message , so profoundly grateful for the magnificent vision and words that so precisely names It—the God asking us to dance with its love, beauty, forgiveness but mostly its Love. Thank you!
Thank you for this beautiful message, Ilia. A recent statement by Dr. Dan Siegel keeps resonating in my mind: “The lethal lie of civilization is that we are separate selves.” I long for new ways that we can learn to enter the reality and beauty of our interbeing. It’s everywhere, but we skim through life on the surface without seeing the deeper truth. Our society’s infatuation with guns is perhaps the starkest example of how we love and protect the lie of being separate.
You have articulated all that I’ve been ‘knowing’, but unable to organize in a simple coherent platform of belief amid the clatter of liturgical push and pull. A special thank you for bringing The Creed into the 21st century.
So powerful, Ilia! Thank you for your courage and persistence in bringing this message into the world!
As 88 years old male, the only thing that makes sense to me now is Love.
I am also convinced the only way to help make it so, is through the loving touch of woman in leadership roles across the world. thank you for stepping up Illia
This Easter message is just what my heart was seeking. I don’t go to church anymore, except possibly Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals. So my husband Ed and I went to Mass yesterday, hoping for joy and inspiration. The Mass was a disappointing often repeated ritual of platitudes. The hymns chosen were odd and different, not joyous. The joy we experienced came from the good will of the people we greeted before, during and after the Mass. This Easter message above rings with truth deep in my being. Thank you. I am grateful beyond words.
The video is spectacular – yes – shout it from the roof tops!!! A new big bang has occurred – we just have not collectively gotten the memo!
Thank you for your inspiring vision of love and hope. I thought I might in turn share my own. Different key, but hopefully similar.
(For Easter this year, I thought I might share a new letter from my book still being revised, Letters from the Outlands of Heaven. These are letters written by a 97-year-old woman, newly arrived in heaven, to her unbelieving son on earth.)
An Easter Vision
As I danced with my four-year-old self, I felt the breath of God’s spirit begin to blow my past away. I was becoming a child again. As I continued dancing, the heavy chains of habit, necessity, compromise, and disillusionment began to fall away until I was dreaming once again within the mind of God in that enchanted time before the first day of creation, before anything, then almost everything, was set in stone.
We were enjoying a game: God would practice saying Let… and I would whisper in God’s ear what I had dreamed. Then God himself, after we had talked things over, would say: Let it be.
Oh, how we played that day before the first recorded day of creation when we dreamed together, God and I, before so much got written down as rule or fact or history. “It will be your birthright,” God said, “the freedom of all my children to dance and dream and create together a kingdom in the image of my love.”
It was children’s day in heaven, you see, a celebratory enactment of the words of Jesus that unless we became as children again, we would not know fully the Kingdom of heaven. It was also, I learned later, a prelude to Easter morning.
Untold millions of us were sitting around on grassy hills encircling fields and orchards where the visions of ourselves at three or four danced and played in the unselfconscious freedom of life all before us. Some danced with daffodils taller than we were, others stretched out on dandelions improvising jazz tunes with a flock of starlings. I watched myself and a boy with blond hair who thought I was cute (he was right, of course) building the city of God from pieces of cardboard, bits of cloud, a mustard seed here and there, something that looked like a pearl we had found, and grass and dirt. Occasionally a brief rain shower fell, and we children splashed each other from puddles of forgiveness, while in the orchards others cut olive branches to offer one another. There were earthworms kissing stars, bats and angels dropping on spiders’ thread to join the other children in the dance. Many sat round inventing stories of mystery and love never even imagined before, clapping and laughing in spontaneous delight at those of the others. Time itself seemed lost as we played together that day in the fields of the Lord.
The longer I watched, the more I felt myself being drawn into the child I had been, becoming one, I with my adult knowledge of a broken world (later we saw Jesus weeping over so many of his little ones denied their childhood by war, abuse, starvation, neglect). I could feel myself breaking free once more from the great lie that all must be the way it is, the way of the wised-up world, in order to be again a child of possibility there in the mind of our creator God whispering together what might be when we and infinite love create together.
We danced together, the two of us, who should, must be, one again. We were floating, disappearing one into the other, pushing clouds aside, plucking feathers from angel’s wings.
Yet even as we danced like that, I felt I was losing her; something inside me was dying again as it had so often before, hope misplaced shrinking again into the slavery of being a wised-up adult. The skies of heaven darkened. The dancing stopped, crushed by the weight of all the worst of my own and our collective, broken human history.
But not completely. Not forever.
It was early morning then, a little light breaking the dark. The stone had been rolled back. Mary Magdalene was there. She heard a voice say: “Mary.”
It was Easter. It was resurrection. All the worst of all the world before and after Jesus had carried to the cross where it died with him. What rose with him that day was our renewed freedom as daughters and sons of God.
Jesus, the Christ, stood there in our midst.
“You can get back to your dancing and creating,” he said. “I’ve taken care of everything; now we go forward as partners.”
Above him were choirs of angels singing with glee, while others flew by with banners saying: “Jesus rose once so that all creation before and after might rise daily to be at play in the fields of the Lord.”
I glanced down, and there once again was my childhood self.
“Don’t you dare lose me anymore,” she said, shaking her small finger at me. “Resurrection, like love, is happening always. You just get busy and forget it.”
Then, hand in hand and bathed now in the full light of a new morning, we went back to play.
Happy Easter. May we all, dear friends, meet more frequently to dance freely with wild abandon in the fields of the Lord.
You pose the question “Is Christ risen from the dead” and you state the answer as “Maybe”??
You state “It is time to stop talking about the risen Christ and begin to love in a radically new way.” Stop talking about the risen Christ – the kerygma of the Christian faith?? Really?? God forbid we stop talking about the risen Christ. We must do both – proclaim the risen Christ ~and~ love in a radically new way because it is the risen Christ who has shown the way to do so! It doesn’t even require unitive consciousness to see this as both/and.
Perhaps there is some subtlety or nuance that is not coming through, but taking your words at face value, I must respectfully say that this ministry is straying quite far off the rails.
Amen!!! So immensely grateful for the vision and expression of this beautiful message. Thank you profusely for taking the time to share with us. May this Infinite Love be with all of us!
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your message! Even the birds sang louder as I read this message during the moments before dawn. Yet, I started to become saddened when I thought, “if God can change and delights in the new and creative why can’t the Church, why can’t WE as the church, try new”? (That is really the million dollar question).
If we are love, light, energy, electricity all wrapped in a “wave pattern duality” then in order for us to keep fully charged and in growing relationships we will need global ” charging ports” for refuelling. Right now, I couldn’t drive an EV from my home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana to Upstate NY as there aren’t enough charging stations. I would “die” before the Penn. Turnpike!
After millennia, most Christian readings still include a subtle message – “its us against all those who are non Christian-especially Pagans.” I am not going to provide a lesson on Paganism and the Church. Its relationship to Monotheistic religions, Eastern religions or how it reflects growing consciousness. Nor will try to convince all that God within is an ancient belief. Animism. Beautiful.
What I will ask, however, is that we realize the Christians, as well as every other religion, committed many atrocities against Pagans, or believers of Folk Religions, including murder, slavery, genocide as well as others. Just a simple search “what atrocities did Christians commit against pagans” and then reading and true reflection will be enough.
I see us, EVERY single one of us, as a silken strand of Being woven into an interconnected tattoo on the amorphous, androgynous, “body” of Christ-the foundation of Being. Still unfolding, becoming, revealing what is and what will be. Creation needs love. Love needs energy. Energy needs ” charging ports”. We are the “charging ports”.
The more ” ports” the further we can go, the more relationships we can enter into, and the further the Word is carried. That’s the end goal-right? To spread the message? Like Mary Magdala and all others. In the end, our words matter. The semantics can either feel warm and inclusive or high mighty, and exclusionary. It is our choice.
Ilia, your creed is soul stopping. I repost here as I modified one line for adoption into my personal creed.
I post in modified form:
I believe I am entangled
I believe the future is the relational unity of all things in God
I BELIEVE THE FUTURE IS AN END RESULT OF RELATIONAL UNITY WITH GOD, US, OTHERS, ALL CREATURES AND NATURE
I believe the heart of God is love.
So more it be
You’re headed in the right direction! Pax et bonum
Let us leave our tombs of darkness, our stifled and protected lives, closed in by giant rocks of hardened hearts or wounded egos or deep fear and anxiety. God is the infinite potential of infinite love and to believe in God is to believe in that which is not yet; the possibilities of what we can become. So throw yourselves into the heart of God – let go and see what happens when faith steers the power of the will.
This part of the reflection has touched me today as I continue my searching. During the Lenten season I heard Him calling me out of my tomb – Patricia come out! – that was a powerful encounter. I am still hesitant about coming out as I’m ‘wounded’ by fear and anxiety. It is stepping into the abyss as that St. Therese of Lisieux speaks about. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me and I believe that this ‘reflection’ is a step toward that ‘abyss’. Thank you for this beautiful reflection.
The resurrection of Jesus is NOT “the first”: Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, was killed by her sister, Ereshkigal, but was raised back to life by her heavenly Father. When Jesus died, many dead rose from the dead and were seen by many in Jerusalem.
The quotation of Perpetua has the wrong gender: she would have said, “Christiana sum.”
Felicity had already given birth. In fact, the text says that her breasts were “dripping” milk.
Right you are Ignacio that the Jesus mystery is not the first story of resurrection! There are many. Another is Persephone and and Demeter and from this myth we have woven our understanding of rebirth, the wheel of seasons and cycle of life. For brevity, I am not going to recount the entire myth as there are many tellings on “the web.
Suffice it to say that Persephone was Demeter’s beloved daughter and one day Hades abducts Persephone and takes her to the underworld. Demeter is heartbroken, devastated, almost made with grief for she loved her daughter her much. Zeus (Deus) manages to persuade Hades to allow Demeter to see her daughter part of the year.
This way, Persephone is resurrected to life in the world with her mother. This period,spring,summer) is associated with abundance, fertility, beauty, flowering, ripening, crops,and all things associated with life. As Persephone slowly retreats, and Demeter begins to grind down , the ending and harvesting of life begins until resurrection is celebrated again.
I am grateful for Ilia’s perceptions and understandings. I do worry that we continue to put too much “me”ness in the old myopic saying “Jesus died for ME because I am a sinner and He forgives MY sins therefore at death I join Him. The old “ We are just human!” “ I’VE been baptized and I go to confession. THAT IS TRUE AND IF YOU ARE 8 to10 yrs of age THIS IS ALL FINE AND GOOD!!! We have tended to often be slow to honor the ongoing deeper conversion we are called toward. I do sincerely believe we have done ourselves no favor in our continuance to placed the Sacraments in a one and done event under the umbrella of the parish priest. I am not angry, I’m just sad. We need small communities of faith that interact with other communities. We need to be expected to have a deeper understanding of other faiths, cultures, a deeper sense of history, especially of how fascism evolved, and how fascist traits are emerging again. Me has to understand our collective “WE”. The fruits of the Spirit need to be understood on a deeper universal level.