January 8 Gospel Reading

Matthew 4:1-11

At that time, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him to the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to Him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

St. Augustine in his Exposition on Psalm 61 said:

“For our life in this sojourning cannot be without temptation: because our advance is made through our temptation, nor does a man become known to himself unless tempted, nor can he be crowned except he shall have conquered, nor can he conquer except he shall have striven, nor can he strive except he shall have experienced an enemy, and temptations. This Man therefore is being vexed, that from the ends of the earth is crying, but nevertheless He is not forsaken. For ourselves who are His body He has willed to prefigure also in that His body wherein already He has both died and has risen again, and into Heaven has ascended, in order that whither the Head has gone before, there the members may be assured that they shall follow…”

“…Christ entirely was tempted of the devil. For in Christ you were being tempted, because christ of you had for Himself flesh, of Himself for you salvation; of you for Himself death, of Himself for you life; of you for Himself revilings, of Himself for you honours; therefore of you for Himself temptation, of Himself for you victory. If in Him tempted we have been, in Him we overcome the devil…”

St. Augustine in his Exposition on Psalm 91 said:

“This Psalm (91) is that from which the Devil dared to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ: let us therefore attend to it, that thus armed, we may be enabled to resist the tempter…”

“Temptation to Him was not necessary: the temptation of Christ is our learning, but if we listen to His answers to the devil, in order that, when ourselves are tempted, we may answer in like manner, we are then entering through the gate, as you have heard it read in the Gospel. For what is to enter by the gate? To enter by Christ, who Himself said, ‘I am the door:’ (Jn. 10:7) and to enter through Christ, is to imitate His ways…”

(Regarding the part about “stones becoming bread”…)

“Was it a great thing for our Lord Jesus Christ to make bread out of stones, when He satisfied so many thousands with five loaves? He made bread out of nothing. For whence came that quantity of food, which could satisfy so many thousands? The sources of that bread are in the Lord’s hands. This is nothing wonderful, for He Himself made out of five loaves bread enough for so many thousands, who also every day out of a few seeds raises up on earth immense harvests. These are the miracles of our Lord: but from their constant operation they are disregarded. What then, my brethren, was it impossible for the Lord to create bread out of stones? He made men even out of stones, in the words of John the Baptist himself, ‘God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.’ (Mt. 3:9) Why then did He not so? That he might teach you how to answer the tempter, so that if you were reduced to any straits and the tempter suggested, if you were a Christian and belonged to Christ, would He desert you now?…Listen to our Lord: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Do you think the word of God bread? If the Word of God, through which all things were made, was not bread, He would not say, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ (Jn. 6:41) You have therefore learned to answer the tempter, when pressed with hunger.”

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