Lent I – Luke 4:9-13

9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, . . .

Ambrose: The next weapon he uses is that of boasting, which always causes the offender to fall down; for they who love to boast of the glory of their virtue descend from the stand and vantage ground of their good deeds.

9 . . . and he said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself from hence.

Athanasius: The devil entered not into a contest with God, (for he durst not, and therefore said, If thou art the Son of God,) but he contended with man whom once he had power to deceive.

Ambrose: It is the fate of boasting, that while a man thinks he is climbing higher, he is by his pretension to lofty deeds brought low.

That is truly the devil’s language, which seeks to cast down the soul of man from the high ground of its good deeds, while he shows at the same time both his weakness and malice, for he can injure no one that does not first cast himself down. For he who forsaking heavenly things pursues earthly, rushes as it were willfully down the self-sought precipice of a falling life.

10 For it is written, that He hath given his angels charge over thee, that they keep thee. 11 And that in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Ambrose: Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and often from the Holy Scriptures weaves his mesh for the faithful.

Let not the heretic entrap thee by bringing examples from the Scriptures. The devil makes use of the testimony of the Scriptures not to teach but to deceive.

Origen: Mark how wily he is even in this testimony. For he would fain throw a slur upon the glory of the Savior, as though He needed the assistance of angels, and would stumble were He not supported by their hands. But this was said not of Christ, but of the saints generally; He needs not the aid of angels, Who is greater than angels. But let this teach thee, Satan, that the angels would stumble did not God sustain them; and thou stumblest, because thou refusest to believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

12 And Jesus answering, said to him: It is said: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Chrysostom: It is of the devil to cast one’s self into dangers, and try whether God will rescue us.

Cyril: God gives not help to those who tempt Him, but to those who believe on Him.

13 And all the temptation being ended, the devil departed from him for a time.

Ambrose: He would not have said that all the temptation was ended, had there not been in the three temptations which have been described the materials for every crime; for the causes of temptations are the causes of desire, namely, the delight of the flesh, the pomp of vain-glory, greediness of power.

Theophylact: Having tempted Him in the desert with pleasure, he retires from Him until the crucifixion, when he was about to tempt Him with sorrow.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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