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Temptation and the Lord’s Prayer

January 11, 2018
Christopher Nantista
Redwood City

Re “God does not lead us into temptation, Satan does, pope says,” Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, Dec. 14, 2017:

The Holy Father’s comments in response to a question about a line in the Lord’s Prayer have gotten much attention and perhaps left some confusion. He rightly rejects a reading that God needs to be implored not to cause us to sin or set traps for us. However, avoiding such a bizarre interpretation has not generally been a problem for Catholics.

Linguistically, “lead us not into temptation” is actually an excellent translation of the official Latin biblical text, which properly translates the underlying original Greek, which we must assume captures the meaning of Jesus’ presumably Aramaic words.

Being in temptation is not a falling; it’s a testing. Of course, we all experience (are led into) temptations. This is not the same as and must not be confused with yielding to them, i.e., falling into sin. God allows us all to be tested, some more than others. Abraham and Job were tested in the Old Testament. After his baptism, God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. The devil did the tempting, but the leading is clearly attributed to the Holy Spirit.

If we acknowledge divine providence playing a role in the course of our lives, the petition is seen as asking God not to subject us to excessive testing, but rather to help us steer clear of temptations, i.e. avoid occasions of sin. We pray that the temptations he does allow/lead us to encounter in life are not beyond our capacity, with the help of his grace, to resist.

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