Matthew 6: “But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy father who seeth in secret will repay thee. . . . Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen. “
Luke 11: ” . . . one of his disciples said to him: Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said to them: When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation. . . .”
The Pope said the words: “lead us not into temptation” are not a good translation. He suggests we now use the words: “do not let us fall into temptation.” He went on to explain: “I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
So, as I understand it, we have been telling God not to lead us into temptation while all the time it has been the Devil who has been doing it. That seems a pretty fundamental error to have been making all these years in saying the Our Father.
Catholic scholars support the Pope’s change. Thomas Stegman, S.J., a Biblical scholar at Boston College reminded us the original was in Greek and the Greek original Greek word for testing or temptation is “peirasmos. He said, “However, if one understands peirasmos as enticement to sin, then the pope’s recommendation, in my opinion, is not only theologically sound but also exegetically defensible.”
I look at in light of Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3, where Hamlet sees Claudius praying. Claudius says: “My words fly up toward heaven, but my thoughts stay down here on earth. Words without thoughts behind them will never make it to heaven.” This is pretty much in line what Jesus said in Matthew 6 before giving his disciples the words to the prayer: “Be not you therefore like to [Heathen] for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him”
The pope and the church scholars seem to forget that we are praying to God. The Church teaches he is omniscient. He knows all things even those deep secrets hidden in the darkest recesses of your heart. He knows what we are going to do before we do it. As Claudius noted he knows when your prayers are blather.
The pope suggesting that the Devil leads us into temptation diminishes the power of God. For Catholics were taught God is omnipotent. Nothing can be done if God is all-powerful without his consent. The Devil could not lead us into temptation unless God first let the Evil One do it. So the present words “lead us not into temptation” are more correct.
The bottom line though is that we don’t know what language the original gospels, who wrote them, or when they were written. Aside from that doesn’t this trivialize God by suggesting that He would prefer certain words in a prayer over others? Sometimes it is fine to leave good enough alone.