Separation Instead Of Distinction

The separation of the Word and Jesus of Nazareth is explicitly mentioned in the notification about Jacque Dupuis and again in Dominus Iesus nr. 10f. In nr. 2 of the notification it is stated:

It must also be firmly believed that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary and only Savior of the world, is the Son and Word of the Father. For the unity of the divine plan centered in Jesus Christ, it must also be held that the salvific action of the Word is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father, as mediator for salvation for all humanity. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith not only to posit a separation between the Word and Jesus, or between the Word's salvific action and that of Jesus, but also to maintain that there is a salvific activity of the Word as such in his divinity, independent of the humanity of the Incarnate Word. (nr.2)

The text says that the Chalcedonian formula "no separation" does not permit that the activity of the Divine Word be separated from the activity of the Word become flesh, so that there cannot be a space which would be free of any relation to the activity of Jesus Christ. It would only make sense to distinguish between the order of being and the order of knowledge; in the order of knowledge, however, we are dealing, firstly, with the reality, more precisely: with the constitution of the human existence of Jesus, and, secondly, with the reality of the members of humankind following the incarnation of Jesus.

We cannot deny that the answer to both questions, the relation of Jesus to the Divine Word and to the Divine Spirit, has to be gathered from the witnesses about the earthly life of Jesus and that the teaching about the inner-trinitarian life of God has to follow from the biblical testimonies about the reality of the triune God as we meet with it in the life of Jesus. What has been summed up in the prologue of St. John's gospel about the reciprocal relationship between God and the Word and, again, about the Word become flesh in Jesus, cannot be simply sacrificed in a time of doubt, when our thinking seems to fail. Negative theology does not mean that human persons like to dispose and to discern arbitrarily about God's possibilities; it is, rather, the fundamental openness for the Deus semper maior, the God who is always greater than human persons can imagine, and who is able to frustrate all human expectations. Being the deus semper maior implies also the Deus semper minor,5 the God beyond all human imaginations, who can manifest himself as great and as little. What, however, is littler than a God who becomes man, a child in the crib and a person who dies on the cross like a criminal? And what shows more greatness than a God who in his incomprehensibility becomes "comprehensible" in the body of Christ, so that we can touch him and hold him, the untouchable, incomprehensible God? As is written in 1 John 1:1-3:

What was from the beginning,

What we have heard,

What we have seen with our eyes,

What we looked upon

And touched with our hands

Concerns the Word of life -

For the life was made visible;

We have seen it and testify to it

And proclaim to you the eternal life

That was with the Father and was made visible to us -

What we have seen and heard

We proclaim now to you,

So that you may have fellowship with us;

For our fellowship is with the Father

And with his Son, Jesus Christ.

However, this beautiful text of the New Testament describes at the same time the point where the concern of the early Church began to shift from proclaiming what had been seen and heard and handed over in the form of narratives to theological reflections on the constitution of Christ in his incarnation. As Jon Sobrino summarizes it, "In the Patristic Age all was to be concentrated gradually on the incarnation - believed as a real event but viewed as so transcendent that it came to overshadow the rest of Jesus' real life. The reality principle was here undergoing a devaluation."6

5 See H. Waldenfels (note 4), pp. 81ff. J. Sobrino (note 3), pp. 86ff.

6 See J. Sobrino (note 3), p. 228; in more detail pp. 225-232.

The Christological conflict in our days has much to do with the results of historical research in the development of the doctrines of the Church, but also with the situation in which we have to proclaim the faith today. Often the ecclesial authorities do not take into account the results of scholarly research sufficiently, as can be learnt from the strong replies to the recent notification against Jon Sobrino.7 On the other hand, the Church has to defend the doctrinal formulas of Chal-cedon as they stand, considering the fact that there is a tendency to deny the significance of Christ's salvific action for all humankind. And here it makes sense to defend the traditional positions with good reasons; we only have to ask whether it suffices the way it has been done.

One argument can be gathered from the Church's prayer life. Here we realize that sometimes the praying Church is more progressive than speculative theological reflection. So in a hymn of a daily hour in the German breviary it is said: Christ, divine Lord,

Whoever has strength to love, will love you, Unconsciously, who does not know you, Passionately, who knows about you.

The difference between "unconsciously" and "passionately," subjective not-knowing and subjective knowing, reminds us of the long disputed question about explicit and implicit faith. Some general observations can help us to understand what it means to talk about "implicit faith." It is a slogan of our days, "Think globally, and act locally." In fact even today most of the people still feel at ease at home (if they have one), in their intimate local atmosphere, and yet hardly anyone can avoid being overrun and overwhelmed by all kinds of external influences, TV and internet, PC and other ways of communication, advertising and public opinion; we are dependent on technological devices and become their slaves And there are only small chances to escape. One of the modern keywords is "inter-": We are interconnected, interrelated, international, intercultural, no wonder, we deal with interfaith and work interreli-giously. "Inter-', however, in general implies dependence; not much is

7 I mention only two German reactions which have been published soon: B. Sessboüe, Jesus Christus aus der Sicht der Opfer, in Stimmen der Zeit (München) 4/2007, pp.240-254, and P. Hünermann, Moderne Qualitätssicherung? Der Fall Sobrino ist eine Anfrage an die Arbeit der Glaubenskongregation, in Herder Korrespondenz (Freiburg) 61 (2007), pp. 184-188.

left from the dream of autonomy and independence which inspired modern man.

Here we understand also what the concept "implicit faith" will say. Knowing that we have not the slightest chance to get some general and overall view about everything, including even moments which are existentially fundamental, we still have the chance to foster a sense of trust and confidence and keep ourselves open for everything which might be good for us personally, and for all the others who are in the same boat of life with us. And as a new sensibility for the social impact of irresponsible behavior and the reality of the social aspect of sin originates, the sense for a universal impact of life and death of a person like Jesus Christ might grow again. We know that God can save people "in ways known to himself" (Ad gentes nr. 7; see Lumen gentium nr. 16). This conviction gives reason to insist on two points: (1) As any human action positively or negatively occurs in history and, though in different degrees, affects history as such, also in life and death of Jesus Christ have affected and still affect human history in its totality. (2) This impact on history is real and exists independent from the explicit or implicit reaction of single persons, their acceptance or denial.

As a result we say for the Christian self-understanding:

(1) The ecclesial message of the uniqueness, and not only of the singularity of Jesus Christ is essentially based upon faith in Jesus, "truly God, truly man," and refers to the reality of Jesus, not to a later interpretation.

(2) Undoubtedly the linguistic formulas have their historical and cultural place, concepts like "subsistent being" (Greek hypostasis) and "nature" find their initial context of origin and formation in Greek philosophy, and also "person" is no biblical term. The transfer of these concepts and conceptions into other linguistic, philosophical and cultural contexts is a problem of its own. However, we have to concede that - in spite of all limitations - on behalf of the common human nature adequate translations in principle must be possible.

(3) All that remains valid, although - even acknowledging the two natures in Christ - ultimately the Chalcedonian formula cannot positively explain how the togetherness of divinity and humanity in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth takes place. Human speculation comes here to an end. Therefore, the statements can only negatively explain what modes of realizations and explications are to be excluded. In this sense the four attributes "no confusion, no change, no division,

jesús christ & the religions no separation" are no ways of explaining the two natures. Who likes to argue, has to do it differently, be it that a parallel claim is put forward -such a claim I do not perceive in the encounter of religions - be it that one of the excluded attributes is used in order to relativize or to negate the Christian doctrine. But what seems to be more important: Christians are requested to reexamine their own ways of argumentations, and the various reflections inside the Church offer a good opportunity to do it in these days.

(4) Considering the points raised it should be examined how far the various theses of the notification concerning Jacques Dupuis are a practical application of a negative theology which by definition implies limitations for all attempted positive arguments. Rightly Hans Kessler maintains:

In its wise reserve the dogma of Chalcedon gives wide space for witnessing what 'truly God and truly man' means. It maps out the regulative frame and offers criteria which should be considered in Christological theory and speech, unless essential moments of the testimonies about Christ in the New Testament are not taken into account.

The dogma maps out the frame, but it does not fill it with life. This, however, is not the task of a dogmatic formula; it has rather to be done - in different modes of speech (narrative, doxological etc.) - in view of Holy Scripture and the communal experiences which the faithful make with Jesus Christ. Therefore, in fact the dynamics of Scripture and of the Church Fathers are missing in the formula.8

Kessler summarizes the statement of the council as follows:

Out of incomprehensible mercy the eternal Son of God humiliated himself to undergo the baseness and iniquity of this world as a weak human person in order to offer us community with him and salvation. Salvation is given us through the incarnation of God.

The assertion "he humiliated himself' has to be emphasized; it has been taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians. In his famous letter to Bishop Flavian of Constantinople of 449 Pope Leo I already referred to Phil 2:5-11 and wrote:9

8 See Th. Schneider (ed.), Handbuch der Dogmatik vol. I. Düsseldorf 1992, p.353.

He (Jesus Christ) took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine. For that self-emptying whereby the Invisible rendered himself visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things chose to join the rank of mortals, spelled no failure of power: it was an act of merciful favor. So the one who retained the form of God when he made humanity, was made man in the form of a servant. Each nature kept its proper character without loss; and just as the form of God does not take away the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not detract from the form of God.

"Form of a servant" and "self-emptying" deepens the understanding of incarnation. "Self-emptying" is the translation of the Greek "ekendsen heauton" (Phil 2:7) = "he emptied himself." Remembering the Greek term of "emptying" - kendsis" - some theologians today talk again about "kenotic Christology," and because ultimately it is God's own "kendsis" also about "kenotic theology." That is to say: Almighty God chooses in Christ for himself the state of total weakness and pow-erlessness. Who possesses divine plenitude, empties himself totally. God chooses the part of the poor, the abandoned and the suffering, and makes himself the "suffering God" (K. Kitamori).10 Actually this approach is very important for today's encounter with Buddhists and their discussion of "emptiness" (Sanskrit sunyata).

JESUS CHRIST,

THE UNIVERSAL MEDIATOR OF SALVATION

The announcement of Jesus Christ as the universal mediator of salvation as such does not imply the will to compete with other religions, but flows from the faith in God's Incarnation. The dissension begins where other religions appear on the stage of the world with an analogous announcement and seem to compete, especially if they offer their invitation exclusively. What weakens the formula of Chalcedon today was its strength in the time of the council: its philosophical terminology and its lack of reference to Holy Scripture. As I mentioned before, the second point is not only a linguistic problem, but implies an important shift in dealing with the person of Christ. Whereas strong attention was paid to the relationship of Jesus and God, his Father, con

10 See K. Kitamori, Theology of the Pain of God. John Knox: Richmond 1965.

sequently to Jesus as the "only-begotten Son" (John 1:14.16; 3:16.18), a second aspect was more and more neglected: Christ's own message of God's kingdom. We shall return to this point later.

Here I would like to quote first two contemporary theologians who both beautifully explain the sonship of Jesus of Nazareth and reach in a significant way the kenotic side of Christ's incarnation; the first one is actually the pope, the second one prefect of the Council for the Unity of the Church.

joseph ratzinger - benedict xvi11

To John "Son" means being-from-another; thus with this word he defines the being of this man (= Jesus) as being from another and for others, as a being that is completely open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere "I." When it thus becomes clear that the being of Jesus as Christ is a completely open being, a being "from" and "towards," that nowhere clings to itself and nowhere stands on its own, then it is also clear at the same time that this being is pure relation (not substantiality) and, as pure relation, pure unity. This fundamental statement about Christ becomes, as we have seen, at the same time the explanation of Christian existence.

walter kasper12

In his absolute obedience Jesus is absolute dependence on and absolute surrender to God. He is nothing in himself, but totally from God and for God. He is totally an empty mould giving form to God's self-communicating love. In this relationship Jesus' attachment to the Father obviously supposes an attachment and a self-giving on the part of the Father to Jesus. The latter Son-Christology is no more than the interpretation and translation of what is hidden in the filial obedience and submission of Jesus. What Jesus lived before Easter ontically is after Easter expressed ontologically.

Wherever Christians announce Jesus the Christ as the mediator of universal salvation, they have to know that the announcement follows from the biblical testimonies of the disciples and their faith in Jesus,

11 See J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity. Ignatius: San Francisco 1990, p.134.

12 See W. Kasper, Jesus the Christ. Paulist: New York 1976, p.110. "Onti-cally" means "really," "ontologically" "reflected and conceptualized."

the "Son" of God, which finds its continuation in the faith in our savior. However, we should not lose sight of the process going on inside the early Church because the memory of this process is one of the causes for the debate in our days. Actually two problems had to be solved:

(1) How can we speak about Jesus the "Son" as God without compromising the faith in the one and unique God which both Jews and Christians profess? Here the Church responded with the early creeds, the Apostolic and the one phrased in the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople.

(2) How can humanity and divinity be united in one human person without destroying the unity of the person, in other words: the subject who sustains both "natures," but in a way that both "natures" - humanity and divinity - are essentially preserved in the tension of one person? In reply to this question the Council of Chalcedon worked out a frame stating that Jesus Christ is "truly God" without losing sight of the fact that he is "truly man." For the early speculation on the constitution of the human person of Christ this formula signifies - as Karl Rahner pointed out - an insurmountable end-point. Therefore, whenever in the following periods of time Christians met with opposition at first they had no other mandate but defense. However, as a consequence of the rather speculative deliberations the concrete earthly life of Jesus and his message of the kingdom were increasingly neglected in preaching and theology as well.

AFTER 1550 YEARS

In the time of pluralism we begin to understand that Chalcedon not only marks an end-point, but also a new starting-point. This has to do with the fact that the discussion around Jesus Christ no longer starts only from the Christian creed, but many times is determined by the fact that different groups in the world - religions as well as non-religious communities - come out with their own universally valid promise of salvation. Christianity is no longer the only presenter, but often enough the message of salvation, liberation and redemption for everybody can also be heard somewhere else, and becomes part of the beginning interreligious dialogue, too.

A dialogue in our days calls, first of all, for an equal right and position for any participant. No one is allowed to enforce his view upon others, no one is to determine the agenda by himself und obliges everyone else to follow. And - what is important by all means - the partners should not speak about each other, they have to speak with each other. The recognition of equal ranking among the participants does, of course, not mean that the various opinions are being neutralized and have to be admitted by anybody. Applying this to the question of salvation, three different attitudes are being distinguished:

(1) Exclusiveness: Only one way is negotiable: one's own; all others are rejected as possible access to salvation. In Catholic theology this attitude found expression in the famous slogan "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus," "Outside the Church there is no salvation." In a study Christianity and the Religions elaborated by the International Theological Commission and published on September 30, 1996, the sentence was clearly rejected in favor of "Extra Christum nulla salus" "Outside of Christ there is no salvation" (nr. 70). In this document the salvific relevance of other religions remains rather open (see nr. 81-87).

(2) Inclusiveness: From a Christian point of view inclusiveness can be understood as follows: Although according to Christian self-understanding the attainment of salvation is bound to Church membership and attachment to Christ, whoever does not come into contact with Christ in an existential manner, can find salvation in an inclusive way. That is to say, he will be saved wherever he follows the voice of his conscience, also inside a certain religious community. It is, however, required that he lives in radical openness for the totality of real world history, as explained before. Whoever affirms reality in its totality, affirms many things inclusively, unconsciously and without detailed knowledge. It is, however, important to note that this attitude can be realized in any reciprocal, mutual way so that we correctly talk about mutual inclusiveness. The most widely known Christian representative of this kind of attitude is Karl Rahner with his conception of an "anonymous Christian." We cannot allege him for representing a new form of arrogance, and this all the more since he has been called from the opposite side "an anonymous Buddhist" or even an "anonymous atheist"; whoever replies in such a way has understood Rahner correctly.

(3) Pluralism: The pluralist attitude tries to avoid the concentration on one religion like Christianity; it thinks in a polycentric way and concedes to all religions that they agree about their goal of salvation and the way leading to it. Also this opinion - something that may not be overlooked - is defended by Catholic theologians. As a result the center of acting and thought is changed. In theological terminology, this change takes place from ecclesiocentrism - here the Church (Greek ekklesia) is in the center - through christocentrism (= with Jesus Christ as decisive center) and theocentrism, where God finally is seen at once as creator and savior, to soteriocentrism, where simply the salvific action (Greek soteria) stands in the middle of one's concern. The final step is done where - as in Buddhism and in the Chinese religions - God is no explicit point of reference. As can be easily seen, fundamental elements of the Christian creed are neglected in this approach. Christ ends up to be only relative, ultimately only for Christians a binding norm. Often philosophically also ultimate truth remains absolutely inaccessible, as it the case with the ultimate reality which we call "God."

As mentioned before, since western Christians also are children of our time, an increasing number asks why the mediation of universal salvation must be limited to Jesus Christ. The problem grows because the number of Christians is diminishing, who give themselves account of their belief in Jesus the Son of God. As many other people, those Christians, too, do not think anymore that humans are susceptible for an ever growing insight into truth, and give in to the power of relativism. At first sight this relativism seems to be restricted to the power of language. At the end, however, it becomes a relativism concerning the reality as such - also the reality which ultimately we call "God." Pope Benedict XVI. has repeatedly warned against the danger of relativism threatening today's society. Nevertheless, we might ask whether really relativism is the most imminent problem which has to be treated here.

A THIRD MAGISTERIUM (ALOYSIUS PIERIS)

For the moment I personally would like to change here the perspective. It is provoked by observations made by theologians from non-western parts of the world. One is Jon Sobrino who invites us to see Jesus with the eyes of the poor, the other is Aloysius Pieris who expressed his uneasiness about the three-part approach offered above and criticized it on behalf of his Asian background and experiences. In an article dealing with interreligious dialogue and theology of religions he writes:13

13 See A. Pieris, Fire and Water. Orbis: Maryknoll, N.Y. 1996; the following pages indicated in the text are quoted from this book.

I am embarrassed when I am asked in classrooms and in public forums whether I am an inclusivist or a pluralist. The reason is not that I dismiss the paradigm that gives rise in theses categories as wrong, but that I have found myself gradually appropriating a trend in Asia which adopts a paradigm wherein the three categories mentioned above do not make sense. For our starting point is not the uniqueness of Christ or Christianity, or of any other religion. A fortiori such a concern would never be a hidden agenda in any inter-religious dialogue that may engage us. Furthermore, interreligious dialogue itself is not a conscious target pursued as something per se, as it is a luxury which the urgency of the socio-spiritual crisis in Asia would not permit. (pp. 155f)

The Asian paradigm he describes in three overlapping concerns: (1) the acknowledgment of a third magisterium, (2) the liberational thrust that defines Asian theology of religions, and (3) the location of this theology in - what he calls - the Basic Human Communities (see p. 156). Here I like to calI attention to his first concern, which - to my mind - however, is by no means an Asian concern alone, since it intersects with the same concern in other parts of the world as well.14 Actually the problematic which occupies Pieris, Sobrino, and others from the viewpoint of the poor and oppressed, has to be located in the discussion on the authority of the people of God.15 What is being discussed under the heading "consent of the faithful" has to be concretized as "consent of the poor." Two things have to be remembered: (1) It was a fundamental decision of Vatican II not to continue the deliberations about the Church in the line of Vatican I with the determination of the role of the bishops; the Fathers decided to begin, instead, with the characteristic common to all faithful, namely to be members of the pilgrim people of God. (2) Before repeating the pronouncements

14 In a contribution to the Festschrift honoring Aloysius Pieris at his 70th birthday I made a similar observation regarding his Christological approach; see H. Waldenfels, "Christ Beyond Dogma"? Some Remarks on Aloysius Pieris' Renewal of Christology, in R. Crusz/M. Fernando/A. Tilakaratne (ed.), Encounters with the Word. Colombo - Aachen - Nürnberg 2004, pp. 209-222.

15 On the authority inside the Church see in more detail H. Waldenfels, Kontextuelle Fundamentaltheologie. Schöningh: Paderborn 4th 2005, pp.506526. The term "third magisterium" is a reminder of the history of the concept "magisterium"; see ibid. 447.

about papal infallibility, the Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium nr.12 asserts,

The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office... The whole body of the faithful who have received an anointing which comes from the holy one (see 1 John 2:20.27) cannot be mistaken in belief. It shows this characteristic through the entire people's supernatural sense of the faith, when, "from the bishops to the last of the faithful," it manifests a universal consensus in matters of faith and morals.

On the basis of these magisterial statements we have to admit indeed that too little attention is paid to the fact that in the field of doctrine a correlation exists not only between the hierarchical magisterium and theology but also a further correlation between both of them and the faith of the entire people of God. Without entering into a more detailed discussion we have to realize that Asian and Latin American bishops and theologians are more eagerly engaged in applying the ecclesial teaching about the consent of the people of God to the concrete circumstances of the continents as in other parts of the world. By this the so far voiceless poor and oppressed become subjects and partners. At the same time the message of the gospel is seen and heard in a new way; Sobrino declares that he has learnt to see and to listen with the eyes and the ears of the victims. Such a view neither replaces the original preaching of Christ nor the understanding of the teaching of the Church thereafter. But it opens up the possibility to visualize how Christ crucified and risen from death continues to live in men and women who follow Christ and carry their cross today. And it is precisely this way that Christ operates his salvation among us today. Here faith is not a question of intellectual reflection, but a life-forming daily experience. In fact, nowhere is God so close to his creatures as wherever they follow the living Christ in faith, hope and love.

In fact, here we are dealing with another mode of dialogue as many people have in mind when they talk about it. In 1 Petr 3:15 Christians are admonished to be always ready to give account of the reason for their hope. People who ask for this account have the right to learn how Christians in our times understand their life as following Christ in his life and death leading to resurrection. Not the intellectual interplay counts but the concrete life practice. Consequently interfaith dialogue is not so much an exchange about doctrinal differences; it rather finds its verification in practical cooperation where we meet with other people in their need and their search and where they can discover how we answer the question about life and death in view of the living Christ.

Often difficulties in the practice of dialogue result from the fact that the unity of theology and spirituality, reflection and practice is broken apart. Frequently alternative positions are extensively discussed and compared, but the question of one's own position and conviction is treated rather hesitantly. We are, however, invited to explain our position freely and without fear. But this is impossible unless we are deeply rooted in our communion with God through Christ. For this reason we have a brief look at an old proverb "Lex orandi lex credendi" (= "The law of prayer is the law of our belief"): for once again: Theology is reflection of a living faith, and it is dead where it is not based on living faith anymore.

LEX ORANDI - LEX CREDENDI

If we like to know the true attitude of the Church toward the salvation of all humans, we have to look only at some texts which are used in the celebration of the holy Eucharist. There we easily learn how the Church herself has renewed and opened her basic attitude regarding humankind. In the prayers for the dead we find the following sequence:

Eucharistic Prayer 1:

Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith...

May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence light, happiness and peace.

Eucharistic Prayer 2:

Remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again; bring them and all departed into the light of you presence.

Eucharistic Prayer 3:

Welcome into you kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in you friendship.

Eucharistic Prayer 4:

Remember all who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead whose faith is known to you alone.

Different from the borderlines drawn in the doctrine of predestination, these prayers for the dead are inspired by a posture which releases the dead, more precisely: each single dead person, and surrenders him or her into the hands of a merciful God and his final judgment. We realize how the attitude is widening in the descent from those "who sleep in Christ" to those who "have left this world in your friendship" and finally to those "whose faith is known to you alone."

The language of the prayer directs our view to the true Christian understanding concerning the dead and teaches us very distinctly: The range in which people "sleep in Christ" is evidently wider than the range in which they are "marked with the sign of faith," baptism and confirmation, the institutional Church. In the language of the Eucha-ristic Prayers which later on were added, the expectation is even more widening in virtue of the grace of God, but also of a faith which God alone knows. Evidently this faith reaches beyond the explicit faith "in Christ," however it may become effective. Here we might ask: Is such a prayer really the expression of a feeling of superiority, a will to power and dominion? Is it an expression of arrogance and presumption and of disparagement of other religions? I think the questions call for a negative response, though Christians should be ready to admit that the modern history of missionary activities is to be read in a parallel way to the colonial history and that the latter was to a large extent a history of oppression and violence.

Here I like to repeat: More important than stirring up history in its failures and errors is the practical attitude of Christians as it is proposed by the official liturgy of the Church. It is essentially an attitude of letting and giving freely. That is to say: Our own future as well as the future of any one else - be he a faithful Christian or not - we deliver into the hands of God. To him we entrust the judgment over life and death of all people. Actually more than in former days this attitude of confidence relies stronger on God's mercy and benevolence than on his absolute justice or whatever mankind considers it to be. We have to become aware that in view of the figure of Christ our image of God is gradually changing, too.

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