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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why do we say, "Lead us not into temptation" in the Our Father?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Question:  Why do we say, "Lead us not into temptation" in the Our Father?  How could a loving God "lead us into temptation" anyway?

Although Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic (note: this is different than Arabic), the New Testament was written in Greek.  The English translation of "lead us not into temptation" is not an exact translation from the Greek.  We are not proposing that God could tempt us into evil.  Rather, we are asking that we be given the grace to discern what is evil and that we may be able to resist its temptation.

From the Catechism:
It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both "do not allow us to enter into temptation" and "do not let us yield to temptation." "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one"; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit"; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

On a different note, does anyone find it ironic that non-Catholic Christians add this portion, called a doxology (expression of praise) to the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory", as it was not found in the original Greek Scriptural text.  To be sure, it is a beautiful expression of praise, and Catholics pray it along with the words of Jesus found in Matthew, but it is not part of the Bible.  It was found in the Didache** (pronounced Did-eh-kay) and thus it is part of an ancient Christian liturgical tradition. 

(**The Didache, meaning "teaching", is an ancient text, written in the first century by Christians,  that is not considered inspired; that is, it was rejected by the early Church bishops as not being Scripture. However, it is gives us insight as to how the early Christians worshiped and what they believed.  If one reads it, I am told, one cannot doubt that what the first century Christians practiced was Catholic in nature!  It gives details on the Mass, on infant baptism and on other practices the early Christians learned from the Apostles.)

Finally, as an aside (I always associate the Our Father with the Hail Mary ) many non-Catholic Christians object to our prayer, the Hail Mary.  I love Fr. Corapi's response to this opposition; he asks the Protestant objector, "What?  Do you have an objection to the Bible?  The entire first paragraph of the Hail Mary is straight from the Gospel of Luke!"
That is, every time Catholics are praying the Hail Mary, we are quoting straight out of the Bible, (at least for the first paragraph of the prayer) even though we may not know it.

Hail Mary!  Full of Grace! The Lord is with you!
And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. -Luke 1:28

Blessed are you among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Luke 1:42

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Catholic Bible online

Catechism of the Catholic Church online

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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