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Gospel for Sunday, February 18: Mark 1:12-15

I Sunday in Lent B

12Immediately afterwards the Spirit drove him into the desert
13and remained there forty days, tempted by Satan; he was with the beasts and the angels served him.
14After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the gospel of God and said:
15‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; be converted and believe the gospel.'”

Mk 1:12-15

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.


The New Missal has finally changed the sixth of the seven invocations of that oratio perfectissima of Jesus-as Thomas Aquinas called it-which is the Our Father, namely “lead us not into temptation,” to “do not abandon us to temptation.”

God tempts no one

The previous translation might have implied that God tempts people. But this cannot be because God tempts no one. He said it himself by the mouth of James: “Let no one, when he is tempted, say, ‘I am tempted of God’; for God cannot be tempted to evil, and he tempts no one” (Jas. 1:12).

Vittorio Messori reported on a distant meeting he had with Abbot Jean Carmignac, a great biblical scholar, who, precisely because of his profound knowledge of the linguistic background of the Gospels, said he was deeply embittered at being “forced to pronounce several times a day what he considered an authentic blasphemy,” namely the infamous “lead us not into temptation.” And, “relying on the original Semitic hidden beneath the Greek text, he proposed as truly faithful to the words of Jesus a ‘do not allow us to submit to temptation (of the Evil One).'” “His insistence and patience,” Messori concluded, “were rewarded, albeit after death.” While in fact believing that the old biblical scholar would not have been completely satisfied with the new official translation (“do not give ourselves over to temptation”), he certainly judged it consoling that “no Christian, uttering the dearest oration, will have to fear blasphemy more than prayer.”

The Aramaic undertone

The new Missal translation goes back to the Greek original, which, however, certainly has an Aramaic undertone, the language used by Jesus, in which the verb used probably had a permissive value: ‘Do not let us/do not lead us into temptation.'” “‘Induce’ in Italian has become overloaded with a volitional connotation (introduce, push in) that no longer makes it say the same thing as Latin inducere or Greek eispherein, where a concessive sense was implied (don’t let in, let us not enter)”: it literally indicates a “don’t lead us toward,” different from “induce” which is a concrete “pushing” someone to perform an action. As the CEI Document presenting the New Missal says, “the genuine meaning is, then, that of not being exposed and abandoned to the risk of temptation. The choice is justified by the fact that the connotation of the Italian “induce” expresses a positive will while the original Greek eisferein rather encompasses a concessive nuance (do not let us enter). With the new translation we express at the same time the request to be preserved from temptation and to be rescued should the temptation arise.”

Don’t give in to temptation

Without God’s help we cannot overcome trials. Thomas Aquinas states, “That is why we say with the Psalmist, ‘Do not forsake me when my strength declines'” (Sl 70:9). God sustains man, that he may not fall into temptation, through the fervor of charity, which, however little it may be, is sufficient to preserve us from all sin. For ‘great waters cannot quench love’ (St. 8:7)” (Commentary on the Pater).


“At this point, however, it is necessary to distinguish between “temptation-trial” and “temptation-insidious,” both meanings possible in the Greek peirasmós used by Matthew. The test may have as its subject God sifting the faithfulness and purity of man’s faith: think of Abraham, invited to sacrifice Isaac, the son of divine promise (Gen. 22), Job, Israel harshly “corrected” by God in the wilderness “as a man corrects his son” (Deut. 8:5). It is an education in faithfulness, selfless giving, pure love without ulterior motives. Consoling in this regard is a phrase from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: ‘No temptation, exceeding human strength, has surprised you; for God is worthy of faith and will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength, but together with the temptation, he will also give you the way out of it so that you may be able to withstand it'” (10:13).

Different is “temptation-insidiousness,” which aims at man’s rebellion against God and his law and which, at first glance, should have Satan or the sinful world as its root… Moral evil must be traced back either to human freedom or to the tempter par excellence, Satan.

Also important in this regard is the seventh and final question, which is the positive version of the previous one: “Deliver us from evil!” Interestingly, in the original Greek one can imagine in the word poneroù both the translation “from evil” and “from the Evil One,” that is, the devil, and both meanings are acceptable and can coexist. During the Last Supper Jesus offers Peter a striking representation of divine help to “deliver us from evil/the Evil One”: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has sought you to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:31-32).

Noted a well-known French Orthodox theologian, Olivier Clément: “Our Father is not concluded by praise or thanksgiving, but remains suspended in a pressing cry of misery,” as man feels himself on the edge of the dark abyss of pain and evil. This is why some ancient codices, followed by Protestant tradition and worship, felt the need to add at the end of the Our Father this acclamation, “Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever!”

But, with her usual finesse and sensitivity to the Christian message, despite her Jewish background, Simone Weil in her work “Waiting for God” (1950) keenly observed that the path of the Our Father is antithetical to that which usually holds every prayer that goes from the bottom to the top, from man and his misery to God and his light. Here, however, it starts from heaven and descends all the way down into the dark tangle of evil” (G. Ravasi). Jesus, undergoing temptation like all men, but remaining in it always faithful to the Father, becomes the perfect Man who, the Evangelist tells us, stands with the fierce beasts and Angels, like Adam in Paradise.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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