September 22 Gospel Reading

Luke 4:1-15

1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ 11 “and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” 13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. 14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily 8 on Matthew 4 wrote:

“The devil would not have assailed you, unless he had seen you brought to greater honor. Hence, for example, from the beginning, he attacked Adam, because he saw him in the enjoyment of great dignity. For this reason he arrayed himself against Job, because he saw him crowned and proclaimed by the God of all. Why then does He say, ‘Pray that you do not enter into temptation?’ (Matt.26:41). For this intent he does not show Jesus simply going up, but ‘led up’ according to the principle of the Economy, signifying obscurely by this, that we ought not of ourselves to leap upon it, but being dragged, to stand manfully …He being minded to attract the devil, gives him a handle not only by His hunger, but also by the place. For the devil assails most especially, when he sees men left alone and by themselves …On this very account we have the greatest need to be flocking together continually, so we may not be open to the devil’s attacks …Not in his fast, but in his hunger he approaches Him; to instruct you how great a good fasting is, and how it is a most powerful shield against the devil, and that after the font, men should give themselves up, not to luxury and drunkenness and a full table, but to fasting. For this cause even He fasted, not as needing to Himself, but to instruct us…”

“Let us begin with the first assault, and examine each with exact care….He did not say, because you are hungry, but ‘if You are the Son of God,’ thinking to cheat Him with his compliments …Flattering Him craftily, he makes mention only of His dignity…By the same means he also cast out the first man, and encompassed him with thousands of other evils, so here likewise he weaves his deceit, I mean with incontinence in his belly…But Christ, to show that the virtuous man is not compelled even by this tyranny to do anything that is unseemly, first hungers, then does not submit to what is enjoined Him; teaching us to obey the devil in nothing…”

“Even though something expedient is suggested by the devils, do not, He says, even so give heed to them… God is able even by a word to nourish the hungry man …What can be the reason that at each temptation He adds this, ‘If You are the Son of God’? Much the same as he did in that former case …as he then slandered God, saying, ‘In the day you eat, your eyes shall be opened, therefore intending to signify that they were beguiled and overreached and had received no benefit…What does Christ do? …He reasons with him again from the Scriptures, saying, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God,’ teaching us that we must overcome the devil, not by miracles, but by forbearance and long suffering, and that we should do nothing at all for display and vainglory…”

“To cast oneself down is the part of the devil and of demons. Whereas God’s part is to raise up even those who are down. And if He ought to have displayed His own power, it would not have been by casting and tossing Himself down at random, but by saving others…”

“Since he had not come to sinning against the Father, saying that all that is the Father’s was his… He then rebuked him… To me it seems that in mentioning the chief of the temptations, he had spoken of all, as though the rest too were included in these. For the things that form the substance of innumerable evils are these: to be a slave to the belly, to do anything for vainglory, and to be in subjection to the madness of riches. That accursed one considering accordingly, set last the most powerful of all: I mean the desire for more …How then are we to get the better of him? In the way which Christ has taught us, by fleeing to God for refuge …Angels will receive you also, applauding you, and waiting as guards on you in all things.”

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