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Pastor Message - August 4, 2019

08/24/2019

THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 23: THE LORD’S PRAYER (conclusion)

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil” (Matthew 6:13).

You may have heard the rumor that Pope Francis changed the Lord’s Prayer or that he was thinking of changing it. The truth is that the bishops of France asked for and received permission to use a new translation of the Lord’s Prayer at Mass, about which Pope Francis spoke approvingly. Since then, some other European bishops have followed suit. They have not changed the Lord’s Prayer, which comes to us in divine revelation and can never be changed by human beings, not even the pope. They have only changed the translation used at Mass. Every version of the Lord’s prayer in use today is a translation of the original, which was written into the New Testament in Greek. Our traditional English translation comes from King Henry VIII, who, before he broke from Rome and formed the Church of England, mandated the version we know today to be the only one used throughout the English realm. That version has continued to be used, virtually unchanged, in English speaking countries down to our own time.

I bring this up because the part of the Lord’s Prayer that these bishops have retranslated is the petition, “lead us not into temptation.” They have done so because they idea that God might lead us into temptation to sin runs contrary to everything we believe about him. Through the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us that God is our loving Father, who is infinitely above us and yet intimately concerned for us, who has revealed his name as the God who saves us from sin and frees us from its power by giving us our “daily bread,” his own Son, whose life we share by the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. It is in this context that we must understand this petition by reflecting on Jesus’ own temptation. After his baptism in the Jordan, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). The Spirit led him into a fortyday battle with the source of all temptation, a battle which Jesus decisively won. With this petition, we ask that our communion with Christ, for which we prayed previously, will give us the same strength to overcome temptation in our spiritual battle, not with God, but with “Evil,” so that we might share in Christ’s victory, which brings us to the final petition: “deliver us from Evil.”

The “Evil” from which we ask the Father to deliver us is not only the collective wrongdoing or misfortune that has plagued the world since the fall of humankind. We live in a world thrown off its spiritual axis by sin, and, though Christ has redeemed the world, the “new heaven and new earth” (Revelation 21:1) he came to establish is still in the painful process of being born: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, also groan within ourselves as wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:2223). In this inbetween time, we ask the Father to deliver us from the very personification of evil, the devil, the source of all temptation, so that, by living according to our heavenly Father’s will, we might share fully in the glory of his kingdom when at last it comes. And so the Lord’s Prayer comes full circle. We begin the prayer in praise and adoration of the almighty God, the Father of life, who gives us all we need to live as his beloved children, and we end the prayer with a plea that he deliver us from Satan, the father of lies, who in his pride rejects God and seeks to drag all of God’s children down with him to destruction. And tying it all together is the Lord Jesus, who teaches us to pray and gives power to our prayer by sending us the Holy Spirit. I hope this past month’s reflection has given us all a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the Lord’s Prayer, and, that each time we pray it, especially when we pray it together at Mass, it may bear greater fruit in our spiritual lives.

 Fr. Marc Stockton

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