2 . . . And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 And the devil said to him: If thou be the Son of God, say to this stone that it be made bread.
Ambrose: There are three especial weapons which we are taught the devil is wont to arm himself with, that he may wound the soul of man. One is of the appetite, another of boasting, the third ambition. He began with that wherewith he had already conquered, namely, Adam. Let us then beware of the appetite, let us beware of luxury, for it is a weapon of the devil.
Gregory of Nazianzus: He fasted in truth forty days, eating nothing. (For He was God.) But we regulate our fasting according to our strength, although the zeal of some persuades them to fast beyond what they are able.
Basil: We must not however so use the flesh, that through want of food our strength should waste away, nor that by excess of mortification our understandings wax dull and heavy. Our Lord therefore once performed this work, but during this whole succeeding time He governed His body with due order.
The devil, knowing that wherever hunger is there is weakness, sets about to tempt Him.
Origen: When a father is asked by his son for bread, he does not give him a stone for bread, but the devil like a crafty and deceitful foe gives stones for bread.
If thou seest the heretics devouring their lying doctrines as if they were bread, know that their teaching is a stone which the devil shews them.
4 And Jesus answered him: It is written, that Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Basil: But Christ while He vanquishes temptation, banishes not hunger from our nature, as though that were the cause of evils.
Gregory of Nazianzus: The body nourishes not our immaterial nature.
Gregory of Nyssa: Virtue then is not sustained by bread, nor by flesh does the soul keep itself in health and vigor, but by other banquets than these is the heavenly life fostered, and increased. The nourishment of the good man is chastity, his bread, wisdom, his herbs, justice, his drink, freedom from passion, his delight, to be rightly wise.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).