BUT (The Our Father, Word by Word)
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 Daily Bread. Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those
Who Have Trespassed Against Us. Lead Us Not IntoTemptation But…
I almost skipped this word. It’s just a conjunction! I thought. Is there really anything to say about it? But then I noticed something.
The but in the English translation of the Our Father actually serves an important purpose: It conjoins two thoughts that might otherwise seem to be only loosely related:
Don’t lead us into temptation
Deliver us from evil
The prayer does not say, “Lead us not into temptation. And, on an unrelated note, deliverance from evil would be great as well.” The two requests are joined with the word but. The last two words of each thought, temptation and evil, are juxtaposed as to invite a connection.
I’m not sure it’s a connection I make often enough.
I usually talk about temptation as a light concept. Don’t want to be tempted! I might say with a laugh as I move the Bluebell Banana Split ice cream to the back of the fridge. But, as we discussed the other day, our worst sins almost always begins with a simple temptation. First you’re tempted, and only after that do you actually commit the sin. Sin is all about giving in to temptation. And what is sin? That’s another concept that some of us (cough-cough me) often don’t take seriously enough. We’d do well to remember that it is nothing short of cooperation with evil, a willful act of assent to the force that wishes to destroy every good thing and leave nothing but death and destruction in its wake.
When I pray the Our Father tonight, I’ll pause on this simple word and note the two phrases it conjoins. And hopefully this will remind me that in order to reject evil, we must first reject temptation.