Pope Francis: Our liberty is confronted with evil, but God is always fighting at our side
In his weekly reflection on the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis has come to the petition that, “so to speak,” gets at the very “heart of the drama: into the confrontation of our liberty with the traps of evil.”
It would be wrong to fail to see Satan’s role in the world and in our lives, the pope suggested, saying:
So many people say, ‘Oh, why do you talk about the devil when it is so old-fashioned? The devil doesn’t exist.’ Well, look at what the Gospel teaches. Jesus faced the devil and was tempted by Satan.
But it is Satan who does the tempting, not God. A father doesn’t set traps for his children, the pope insisted.
He emphasized that a Christian understanding of God is far from some sort of “jealous God who is competing with humanity or who enjoys testing them.” Instead, “these are images of many pagan divinities.”
The final petition of the Our Father is difficult to translate from the Greek, the pope said.
The English rendering could imply an idea of a god who actively sets traps for us. But that is contrary to what Jesus himself taught, summarized by James in his letter: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).
The Spanish rendering of this last petition is “do not allow us to fall into temptation,” and last year, the bishops of Italy voted for a similar rendering in Italian.
The Holy Father emphasized that as Christians, we exclude any concept of God as if he himself were “on the prowl, setting snares and traps for his children.”
“God is not the author of evil,” he said.
“And when evil appears in the life of a person, God fights beside him so that he can be liberated. He is a God who is always fighting for us, not against us. He is a Father. This is the perspective with which we pray the Our Father.”
He is a God who is always fighting for us, not against us.
The fact that Jesus is tempted in the Gospels shows how much God is a “God with us,” the pope continued.
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 difficulties. He is with us in sadness. He is with us in failures, when we sin … he is always with us because he is a Father and he cannot abandon us.
His presence with us in our difficulties is the exact opposite of what his disciples offered him.
In his moment of agony [in Gethsemane], God asks man not to abandon him, and man sleeps. In the moment that man finds himself in agony, God instead keeps watch. In the worst moments of our lives, in the most sorrowful moments, in the moments of greatest anguish, God keeps watch with us. He fights with us. He is always close to us. Why? Because he is our Father. That’s how we began the prayer, “Our Father.” And a father doesn’t abandon his children.