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The Papal Temptation

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I posted last year on Pope Francis' decision to re-word the Lord's Prayer when he says that God doesn't lead us into temptation. I made the case that Our Lord was led into Temptation as part of His participation in our suffering as human beings. To be human is to face trial, test and temptation and to suffer the agonies therefrom which are caused by the conflict between the flesh and the spirit. It is an agony which we should not want because we want to follow Christ wholeheartedly and it is our human frailty whereby we do not do so.

Pope Francis is not a father: his communion forbids this of priests. Not one celibate priest will know the agony of serious illness in their child. Not one will experience that moment where one's faith is tested to the limit at the prospect of losing their little one. Yet, we know that faith must be tested if it is to be of any worth and refined. Faith is not an anodyne theoretical concept, but must be lived.

Children die every day: some die in the womb, others suffer an agony which they are too young to express. Seeing a little boy lying in a gurney as his life ebbs painfully away causes us to question God. And it is God Who has led us here to present us to the facts of the human condition. It is God Himself Who has led us here to this point as our human compassion rips us to shreds. And the temptation is to turn to Him and tell Him to get stuffed.

Our faith is as weak as we are and we are not always strong enough or capable to cope with the reality of our life and death. We must recognise this weakness in humility rather than some cavalier bravado which will result in our faith crumbling under our own hubris.

In changing the Lord's Prayer, the Pope removes the statement of our humility, that we cannot face the temptation into which God would lead us in understanding His world and the consequences of its suffering. Only He has been able to bear all this on His shoulders upon the Cross. While we have crosses to bear, and must venerate those crosses, we must remember our breaking point and trust God not to bring us there.

"Lead us not into temptation" is a statement of humility, a recognition of the misery of the human condition, the truth of its sanctification upon the Lord's Cross, and the hope of its transformation in the Life Eternal. Change that, and you rob yourself and others of the participation in the great good that God can work in all things for those who love Him.

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