A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Deliver us from Evil

Fr Bernard Carney sm

Fr Bernard Carney sm

St. Bernard, the story goes, was a stickler for attention to prayer. After a discussion with a pilgrim on the topic he said, “If you can say the ‘Our Father’  aloud without any distraction I will give you my horse.”

The pilgrim thought this was too good to be true, so he began ‘ Our Father who art in heaven …’     he got up to  ‘give us this day…’ when he stopped. He turned to St. Bernard and said, “Does that mean I get the saddle too?” Sadly he resumed his pilgrimage on foot.

One of the key phrases in the prayer the Lord left us is ‘Deliver us from evil.’  I would just like to offer a few thoughts on this phrase. When we talk of evil we can make some divisions. There are natural disasters and in our minds the sorrow brought by loss of life in events like the Christchurch earthquake must count as an evil. Add to this all the emotional and economic stress that still flows from it.

Then we can say there are evils brought about by wicked people. The taking of life – abuse of innocent people – theft on a grand scale by duplicitious money schemes. The evil here is  the intention to deceive.

A Pilgrim prayes along the Way of St. James of Compostella.

A Pilgrim prayes along the Way of St. James of Compostella.

Then there are evils which sit in between. We don’t know yet the full story of the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner, nor do we know the precise causes of the recent loss of  life over the sinking of a Korean passenger ship. All we know is that it caused the families involved great personal sorrow.

The phrase in the Lord’s prayer ‘deliver us from evil’ gives us Christians a unique insight into the place of evil in our lives. It is true that Creation has been redeemed, but in the life – time of each of us that redemption has to be played out.

By the same token Christians have been given a promise which is a source of hope. The promise springs from the Baptism of each of us.  The ritual says that we are baptised as priest, prophet and king. That means we are the adopted sisters and brothers of the Lord. We share in his family and eventually that will lead us to his company forever.

We know that bad things -  natural and intended do happen in life but that our help in our pilgrimage is in Jesus himself.

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