Evil

This is part of a series – The Lord’s Prayer in slow motion:

the first is Lord, Teach Us to Pray
the second is Our Father
the third is Our Father (part 2)
the fourth is Our Father (part 3)
the fifth is Hallowed be your Name
the sixth is Your Kingdom Come
the seventh is Your will be done.
the eighth is Give us today our daily bread.
the ninth is Forgive us our sins.
Save Us from The Time of Trial

Deliver us from evil.

ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ (Mt 6:13 – it is absent in Luke)

In the Greek, and even later in the Latin translation (sed libera nos a malo), you cannot work out if the text is ‘deliver us from evil’ or ‘deliver us from the evil one’. Both are expressed the same in the original.

When we see clear evil, and when I talk about this with some people, the response is: why not just send some missiles… Deliver us from evil; deliver us from the evil one – simply by wreaking destruction and killing lots of people. Problem solved.

Does the saying attributed to Mahatma Gandhi spring to mind: an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

And then there was Robert Bowers who, online, ranted against Jews – terrible, terrifying antisemitism, and then went into Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on the sabbath, armed with an AR-15-style rifle and three handguns. As you know, he killed 11 people – one of them was a woman who was a holocaust survivor, another was doctor named Jerry Rabinowitz who rushed toward the noise to go and help.

Bowers, the shooter, was wounded. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital. And he was telling the SWAT team and others, yelling it by some reports: “I want to kill all the Jews.”

And here’s the irony: At least three of the doctors and nurses who then cared for Robert Bowers at the Allegheny General Hospital were Jews.

The President of the hospital, Jeffrey Cohen, you can tell by his name – and so could Bowers tell – that he is Jewish, in fact he’s a member of the congregation where the massacre happened – President Jeffrey Cohen went to check on Bowers that he was OK.

“We’re here to take care of sick people,” he said. “We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ’Do you have insurance?’ or ’Do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people that need our help.”

Can you imagine what that encounter was like – The President of the hospital meeting the shooter – introducing himself: “I’m Dr Cohen” – Cohen, as I said, being clearly a Jewish name.

That is a different way to deliver us from evil than an eye for an eye – and sending in missiles isn’t it?

There is blatant evil; there are clear examples of goodness.

But actually evil, the evil that we regularly meet – is far, far more subtle. Understated. Elusive. Shrewd. It’s sometimes quite hard to recognise evil. It usually doesn’t come overtly. It comes in ordinary form in you and me.

It starts subtly with laziness, or saying something that’s not 100% correct, or borrowing something without asking, or making a remark about someone that makes other people laugh, that sort of thing. Subtle things.

And then it builds on that. Evading tax. Gossiping – outright lies about someone. Cheating. Lying. Stealing. Bullying. Creating a product that is addictive.

In this real world it’s often hard to distinguish, to be clear about motives. There are grey areas. We are not sure who is trustworthy. Who is good.

And not only is the evil subtle. But the delivery from it is subtle too.

In the way we speak to each other. In our effort at work. In our honesty. In our trustworthiness. In our sticking up for the oppressed….

Deliver us from the evil one. Deliver us from evil.

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image source: Good-Evil Ambigram

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