This week’s news is that Pope Francis wants to tinker with the Lord’s Prayer. He doesn’t like the translation of the phrase “Lead us not into temptation.”
He makes the point that God does not tempt us. Yes. I think I got that in my first grade Sunday School class.
But nevertheless, it is a point that can be made again.
Of course some traditionalists are getting all sniffy and worried. “If he changes the Lord’s prayer. What next?”
Linguistics experts are weighing in on Aramaic this and Greek that, Latin this and Hebrew that. Very good. We need linguistics experts.
However, everybody can agree that the way the phrase is worded can be confusing to modern English speaking ears. We pray “Lead us not into temptation” but a more clear translation might be “Do not lead us into the time of trial.” An even clearer translation would shift it into a positive understanding, “Lead us away from temptation”
But do we really need to change the words? They’re one of the few bits of the Bible that most people can recite, and as a prayer it might just be the one prayer they say in time of need or emergency. It would be a shame is some tepid believer, when their plane is in a tailspin, and they have just a moment to pray come up against “lead us not into temptation” and are worried that they might have got it wrong.
Indeed, is it really so confusing for people? I think most people understand that “Lead us not into temptation” is the first part of a fuller context which continues, “but deliver us from evil.” When the second half is said it is clear that “lead us not into temptation” is best understood as “lead us away from temptation.”
I suspect, as usual, Pope Francis was just speaking off the cuff, and I doubt very much if we will have to change all our missals and breviaries next week.
If this is the case, can someone remind the Pope that whenever he says anything he should remember that the whole world will take it as an infallible statement–especially non-Catholics.