Conclusion

To conclude this discussion, I should like to allude to a Gospel text: "When these things begin to happen, stand erect and hold your heads high, your deliverance is near at hand" (Luke 21 :28). The words "stand erect" here are associated with the Hebrew words talita kumi, which Jesus used when raising the daughter of J airus to life again. Thus to "stand erect" is to come back to life again, and that is what we must do today. Weighed down by suffering, oppression, and pessimism, we must come back to life as Christians. Jesus tells us that our deliverance is at hand. It is, in two senses. Our life is short, and our deliverance from suffering is not far away, especially if we are truly committed to liberation. But it is near at hand in another sense also. The person who commits himself to work for the coming stage of history here and now is also working for the kingdom of God which has already begun Ilere. We cannot fashion the kingdom of God out of thin air. We must fashion it through concrete historical projects. No specific project in history will completely flesh out the kingdom, but that does not mean we can sit back and do nothing. Some people turn a specific project into an absolute, idolizing their own scheme. The communists do that with communism, for example. But others avoid all commitment and wait for the arrival of an ethereal divine kingdom. That, too, is a mistake. We must commit our lives to concrete work in history. We must feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. We must work with dedication and enthusiasm, even though we realize that every specific project is relative, for that is the only way to make the kingdom of God manifest.

The mission of the Christian is not performed solely by building churches. It is carried out by participating in reallife history in its many different aspects. The kingdom of God is fashioned through these projects. If they are not carried out, the kingdom will never come. We must get rid of many of the false antinomies that still weigh down upon us.

When Jesus cured the paralyzed and the sick, he told them that their faith had saved them. We, too, must have faith if we are to be saved. We must "stand erect" and "hold our heads high" because our deliverance is at hand.

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