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Holy Father Addresses ‘Our Father’ at General Audience (Full Text)

‘The Confrontation Between our Freedom and the Snares of the Evil One’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:10 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “Lead us not into temptation” (Biblical passage: From the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 10:13).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We continue the catechesis on the “Our Father,” arriving now at the penultimate invocation: “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). Another version says: ”Let us not fall into temptation.” The “Our Father” begins serenely: it makes us desire that God’s great plan be fulfilled in our midst. Then it casts a glance on life, and it makes us ask for what we have need every day: “daily bread.” Then the prayer addresses our inter-personal relationships, often tainted by egoism: we ask for forgiveness and we commit ourselves to give it. However, it’s with this penultimate invocation that our dialogue with the Heavenly Father enters, so to speak, the heart of the drama, namely, the area of the confrontation between our freedom and the snares of the Evil One.

As is known, the original Greek expression contained in the Gospels is difficult to render in an exact manner, and all the modern translations are somewhat shaky. However, we can converge unanimously on one element: no matter how the text is understood, we must exclude that God is the protagonist of the temptations that loom on man’s path as if God Himself was lurking to put snares and pitfalls for his children. An interpretation of this nature contradicts first of all the text itself and is far from the image of God that Jesus has revealed to us. Let us not forget: the “Our Father” begins with “Father.” And a father doesn’t put pitfalls to his children. Christians have nothing to do with an envious God, in competition with man, or who is amused to put man to the test. These are images of so many pagan divinities. In the Letter of the Apostle James, we read: “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God,” because God can’t be tempted to evil and He doesn’t tempt anyone” (1:13). If anything, it’s the contrary: the Father isn’t the author of evil, and no child who asks for a fish is given a serpent (Cf. Luke 11:11) — as Jesus teaches — , and when evil appears in man’s life, He fights at his side, so that he can be freed — a God who always fights for us, not against us. He is the Father! It’s in this sense that we pray the “Our Father.” These two moments — the test and the temptation — were mysteriously present in the life of Jesus Himself. In this experience, the Son of God made Himself completely our brother, in a way that touches almost on scandal. And it’s precisely these evangelical passages that show us that the most difficult invocations of the “Our Father,” those that close the text, were already heard: God hasn’t left us alone but, in Jesus, He manifests Himself as the “God-with-us” up to the extreme consequences.  He is with us when He gives us life, He is with us during life, He is with us in joy, He is with us in trials, He is with us in sadness, He is with us in defeats, when we sin, but He is always with us, because He is Father and cannot abandon us.

If we are tempted to do evil, denying fraternity with others or desiring an absolute power over everything and everyone, Jesus has already combatted this temptation for us: the first pages of the Gospels attest it. Immediately after having received Baptism from John in the midst of the crowd of sinners, Jesus withdraws to the desert and is tempted by Satan. Satan was present. So many people say: “But why speak of the devil which is something ancient? The devil doesn’t exist.” But see what the Gospel teaches you: Jesus confronted the devil; Satan tempted Him. However, Jesus rejects every temptation and comes out victorious. Matthew’s Gospel has an interesting note, which closes the duel between Jesus and the Enemy: “Then the devil left Him, and behold, Angels came and ministered to Him” (4:11).

But even in the time of supreme test, God doesn’t leave us alone. When Jesus withdrew to pray in Gethsemane, His heart was invaded by unspeakable anguish  — He said so to the disciples — and He experienced solitude and abandonment — alone, with the responsibility of all the sins of the world on His shoulders; alone, with unspeakable anguish. The test is so lacerating that something unexpected happens.  Jesus doesn’t beg love for Himself, yet in that night He was sorrowful even unto death, and then He asks for the closeness of His friends: “Remain here, and watch with Me!” (Matthew 26:38). As we know, the disciples, heavy with a torpor caused by fear, fell asleep. In the time of agony, God asks man not to abandon Him and man, instead, sleeps. Instead, God watches in the time when man experiences his trial. In the most awful moments of our life, in the moments of greatest suffering, in the most anguishing moments, God watches with us, God fights with us, He is always close to us. Why? He does so because He is Father. This is how we began the prayer: “Our Father.” And a father doesn’t abandon his children. That night of Jesus’ sorrow and struggle was the last seal of the Incarnation: God comes down to find us in our abysses and in the travails that dot history.

It’s our comfort in the hour of trial to know that that valley since Jesus crossed it, is no longer desolate but blessed by the presence of the Son of God. He never abandons us!

Therefore, remove from us, O God, the time of trial and of temptation. But when this time arrives for us, our Father, show us that we’re not alone. You are the Father. Show us that the Christ has already taken on Himself the weight of that cross. Show us that Jesus calls us to carry it with Him, abandoning ourselves trustfully to your love of Father. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

  

In Italian

 Today is the fifth Centenary of the Canonization of Saint Francis de Paul, Founder of the Order of Minims, Patron of Calabria and of the Italian People of the Sea. I would like to exhort his spiritual children and all those that have him as heavenly Patron to put into practice his message of “continual conversion,” which speaks to us again today of unconditional love for God, for brothers and for Creation.

I also remind that held next Sunday in Italy will be the Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. May this Athenaeum be able to go on ever better in its service of the formation of young people, in a constant dialogue between faith and the questions of the contemporary world.

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I’m happy to receive the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Capuchin Friars.

I greet the Parish Groups, in particular, those of Acilia, Caserta, Andria, and Altino; the Scout Group of Pontinia and the Ticino Christian-Social Organization.

A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. May the figure of the humble worker of Nazareth always guide us to Christ; support the sacrifice of those that do good and intercede for those that have lost work or are unable to find it. Let us pray especially for those that don’t have work, which is a global tragedy of these times.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Virginia Forrester

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