‘Lead us not into temptation’

By Father Kenneth Doyle

Question Corner

Q. When we say the Lord's Prayer at Mass, we pray, "Lead us not into temptation." Why would God lead us into temptation? I know that God allows temptation to occur, but the word "lead" is an active verb that implies God may be actively involved in our being tempted.

Would you please clarify the church's teaching on God's role in temptation? (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania)

A. I agree with your concern over the phrase "lead us not into temptation." But more important, so does Pope Francis. In an interview in 2017 with Italian television, Pope Francis said, "That is not a good translation."

He suggested as a possible alternative, "Do not let us fall into temptation." And within two years, Vatican-approved translations in French, Italian and Spanish included equivalents such as "Do not abandon us to temptation."

That comports with the biblical Letter of James that says: "No one experiencing temptation should say, 'I am being tempted by God'; … Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire" (1:13-14).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clarifies that the Greek wording used in the Scripture "means both 'do not allow us to enter into temptation' and 'do not let us yield to temptation'" (No. 2846).

So be comforted: The God who created us out of love would not purposely place us in temptation and set us up to fall into sin.

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at [email protected] and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.