No one is immune from the devil's temptations
Editor's Note: Today for the First Sunday of Lent we can see the sage discernment of the Epistle as provided by such august luminaries as Sts. John Chrysostom, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas including a reference to Pope Pius VI who wrote a special letter to the Irish warning them of interpreting by themselves whatever they read in holy Scripture. This is, of course, Protestant and leaves the door open for countless different interpretations which can twist any verse to be whatever they want it to be at the expense of the true meaning discerned through the Holy Ghost by the Magisterium of the Church for all time for the Word of God does not and cannot change or mean something different. Thus we present the Haydock Commentary for the First Sunday of Lent
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4: 1-10
1 And we helping, do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
Commentary on Verse 1: We helping, or in the Greek, working together, that is, with God, as employed by him, or as his ministers, and ambassadors, we exhort you not to receive the grace of God in vain, by resisting his interior graces, by an idle, or a wicked life.
2 For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee: and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation.
Commentary on Verse 2: Now is the day of salvation, by the coming of your Redeemer.
3 Giving no offence to any one, that our ministry be not blamed.
Commentary on Verse 3: In this, and the following verses, St. Paul shews his anxious solicitude not to give any, the least occasion of scandal, lest some reproach might fall upon the ministry of the gospel: for nothing is more likely to cast a blemish on the sanctity of religion, than the want of conduct in any of its ministers. If what they say be true, why do their own lives correspond so little with what they say. This will be the cry of all libertines. Calmet.
4 But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in prisons, in seditionss, in labours, in watchings, in fastings,
6 In chastity, in knowledge, in long suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned,
7 In the word of truth, in the power of God: by the armor of justice, on the right hand, and on the left:
8 Through honour, and dishonour, through bad name and good name: as seducers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known:
Commentary on Verse 8: The apostles maintained the character, and fulfilled the duties of the ministers of Christ, equally in prosperity and adversity; they continued to speak the truth, though regarded by the Jews as seducers; exposed to all kinds of dangers, they relied on God, Who preserved them, though in the midst of dangers, and of death itself. Though they possessed nothing in this world, yet God never permitted them to remain in want: Gis providence procured for them all things necessary. Though they had nothing in their possession, yet they procured relief for others, by the alms, of which they were made the disposers, though this latter part is generally understood of the spiritual riches, which they bestowed upon the auditors. Estius.
9 As dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed:
10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing, and possessing all things.
Gospel: St. Matthew 4: 1-11
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Commentary on Verse 1: Jesus Christ was led by the Holy Ghost, immediately after His baptism, into the desert, to prepare, by fasting and prayer, for His public ministry, and to merit for us by His victory over the enemy of our salvation, force to conquer him also ourselves. By this conduct, He teaches all that were to be in future times called to His ministry, how they are to retire into solitude, in order to converse with God in prayer, and draw down the blessing of Heaven upon themselves and their undertaking. What treasures of grace might we expect, if, as often as we receive any of the sacraments, we were to retire within ourselves, and shut out, for a time, the world and its cares. Then should we come prepared to withstand temptation, and should experience the divine assistance in every difficulty through life. The life of man is a warfare on earth. It was not given us, Says St. Hilary, to spend it in indolence, but to wage a continual war against our spiritual enemies. In the greatest sanctity there are often the greatest and most incessant trials; for Satan wishes nothing so much as the fall of the saints. By these trials, we learn the strenght we have received from above, we are preserved from self-complacency and pride in the gifts of Heaven; we confirm the renunciation we made in baptism of the devil, and all his works and pomps; we become stronger, and better prepared for future attacks, and are feeling convinced of the dignity to which we have been raised, and of which the enemy of souls endeavors all he can to deprive us. St. John Chrysostom. Both St. John the Baptist and our divine Master, by retiring into the wilderness for contemplation, prayer, fasting and suffering, have given a sanction and an example to those holy men called hermits, who have taken shelter in their sanctified retreats against the dangers of the world.
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry.
Commentary on Verse 2: Jesus wished to manifest a certain corporeal weakness, arising from His continued fast, that the devil might venture to tempt Him; and after a fast of 40 days and 40 nights He was hungry. Christ was well acquanted with the thoughts of the wicked fiend, and his great desire of tempting or trying him. The devil had learnt that he was come into the world from the songs of the angels at his birth, and from the mouth of the shepherds and of St. John the Baptist. To fast 40 days without being hungry, was certainly far above the strength of man, but to be hungry at any time is inconsistent with God; for which reason our blessed Savior, that He might not manifestly declare his divinity, was afterwards hungry. St. Hilary. On this example, as well as that of Moses and Elias, who also fasted 40 days, the fast of Lent was instituted by the apostles, and is of necessity to be observed according to the general consent of the ancient Fathers. St. Jerome says, we fast 40 days, or make one Lent in a year, according to the tradition of the apostles. St. Augustine says, by the due observance of Lent, the wicked are separated from the good, infidels from Christians, heretics from Catholics. Our Savior fasted 40 days, not because He stood in need of it, as we do, to subject the unruly members of the body, which lust against the spirit, but to set an example for our imitation. Another reason might be, to prevent the captious remarks of the Jews, who might object that He had not yet done what the founder of their law, Moses, and after him Elias, had done. Palacius in Mat.
3 And the tempter coming, said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Commentary on Verse 3: "And the tempter coming," 'So (?), who looked upon this hunger as a favourable moment to tempt him, and to discover if He were truly the Son of God, as was declared at His baptism, desired Jesus to change by a miracle the stones into bread, to appease His hunger and to recover His strength. By this we are taught, that amidst our greatest austerities and fasts, we are never free from temptation. But if your fasts, says St. Gregory, do not free you entirely from temptations, they will at least give you strength not to be overcome by them. St. Thomas Aquinas. The tempter is supposed to have appeared in a human form, and the whole tempation to have been merely external, like that which took place with our first parents in Paradise. It would have been beneath the perfection of Christ, to have allowed the devil the power of suggesting stones into bread, the devil, according to St. Jerome, would have thence inferred that he was God. But it was Christ's intention to overcome the proud fiend rather by humility than power. St. Thomas Aquinas. Thus, if the first Adam fell from God by pride, the second Adam has effectually taught us how to overcome the devil by humility.
4 But He answered, and said: It is written: Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Commentary on Verse 4: Man liveth not by bread only. The words were spoken of the manna Deut viii. 3. The sense in this place is, that man's life may be supported by any thing, or in any manner, as it pleaseth God. St. Gregory upon this passage says: if our divine Redeemer, when tempted by the devil, answered in so mild a manner, when He could have buried the wicked tempter in the bottom of hell, ought not man, when he suffers any thing from his fellow man, rather to improve it to his advantage, than to resent it to his own ruin. Man consists of soul and body; his body is supported by bread, his soul by the word of God; hence the saying, "Lex est cibus animae." Mat. Polus.
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
Commentary on Verse 5: In the text of St. Luke this temptation is the third: but most commentators follow the order of St. Matthew. In Palestine, all buildings had a flat roof, with a balustrade or a parapet. It was probably upon the parapet that the devil conveyed Jesus. The three temptations comprise the three principal sources of sin: 1. sensuality; 2. pride; and 3. concupiscence. Epistle of 1 St. John ii. 16. We may hope to conquer the first by fasting and confidence in divine Providence; the second by humility; the third by despising all sublunary things, as unworthy a Christian's solicitude. A. The devil took him, &c.+ If we ask in what manner this was done, St. Gregory answers, that Christ might permit Himself to be taken up, and transported in the air by the devil, He that afterwards permitted Himself to be tormented, and nailed to a cross by wicked men, who are members of the devil. Others think the devil only conducted Him from place to place. The text in St. Luke favors this exposition, when it is said, the devil led Him to Jerusalem, to a high mountain, & c. Wi.
6 And said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down, for it is written: That He hath given His angels charge of Thee, and in their hands shall they bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.
Commentary on Verse 6: Heretics, says St. Augustine, quote Scriptures, as the devil does here, in a wrong and forced sence; the Church cites them, like Jesus Christ, in their true sense, and to confute their falsehood. It is on this account, that the Catholic Church wishes persons who come to the study of the most mysterious and difficult book ever published, should bring with them some preparation of mind and heart; convinced that the abuse of the strongest and best food may be converted into deadly poison. The promoters of Bible societies have published in Ireland a tract to encourage the universal perusual of the Scriptures, as the sole rule of faith. In this they give not only a mutilated and corrupt version of the letter of his late Holiness Pius VI to the now archbishop of Florence, (to be seen at the head of this edition of the Bible) but certain letters from German Jansenists, who are described as being good Catholics.
7 Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain: and shewed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,
Commentary on Verse 8: Shewd Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and as St. Luke says, in a moment of time. We cannot comprehend how this could be done from any mountain, or seen with human eyes. Therefore many think it was by some kind of representation; or that the devil shewing a part, by words set forth the rest. He shewed Him the different climates in which each country was situated. St. John Chrysostom.
9 And said to Him: All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me.
Commentary on Verse 9: All these will I give Thee. The father of lies here promised what was not his to give. For though he be called the prince of this world, (St. John xii. 31,) meaning of the wicked, who wilfully make themselves his slaves; yet so restrained is the devil's power, that he could not go into the swine till Christ permitted it. St. Matthew viii. 31. What arrogance! what pride! The devil promises earthly kingdoms, whilst Jesus promises a heavenly Kingdom to His followers. St. Remigius. Behold the pride of his heart; as he formerly wished to make himself God, so now he wishes to assume to himself divine honors. St. Thomas Aquinas.
10 Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.
Commentary on Verse 10: Jesus Christ does not here cite the words, but the substance of the text. Deut. v. 7. and 9; vi. 13; x. 20. It is remarkable that our Lord bore with the pride and insolence of the devil, till he assumed to himself the honor due to God alone. St. John Chrysostom.
11 Then the devil left Him; and behold angels came and ministered to Him.
Commentary on Verse 11: Then the devil having exhausted all his artifices, left Him for a time, as St. Luke remarks; whence we are to learn, that after we have resisted with success, we are not to think ourselves secure, but avail ourselves of the truce to return thanks to God for the victory, and to prepare for fresh combats, especially by fortifying ourselves with the Bread of Angels in the holy Communion. The temptations of Jesus Christ are to us a subject both of consolation and instruction. By example He has taught us how to fight and to conquer. The struggle may be painful; but angels, as well as God, witness our struggle, ready to crown our victory.http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2018.htm#article5Whether a human action is good or evil in its species?Objection 1.
It would seem that good and evil in moral actions do not make a difference of species. For the existence of good and evil in actions is in conformity with their existence in things, as stated above (Article 1). But good and evil do not make a specific difference in things; for a good man is specifically the same as a bad man. Therefore neither do they make a specific difference in actions.Objection 2.
Further, since evil is a privation, it is a non-being. But non-being cannot be a difference, according to the Philosopher (Metaph. iii, 3). Since therefore the difference constitutes the species, it seems that an action is not constituted in a species through being evil. Consequently good and evil do not diversify the species of human actions.Objection 3.
Further, acts that differ in species produce different effects. But the same specific effect results from a good and from an evil action: thus a man is born of adulterous or of lawful wedlock. Therefore good and evil actions do not differ in species.
Further, actions are sometimes said to be good or bad from a circumstance, as stated above (Article 3). But since a circumstance is an accident, it does not give an action its species. Therefore human actions do not differ in species on account of their goodness or malice.On the contrary,
According to the Philosopher (Ethic ii. 1) "like habits produce like actions." But a good and a bad habit differ in species, as liberality and prodigality. Therefore also good and bad actions differ in species.I answer that,
Every action derives its species from its object, as stated above (Article 2). Hence it follows that a difference of object causes a difference of species in actions. Now, it must be observed that a difference of objects causes a difference of species in actions, according as the latter are referred to one active principle, which does not cause a difference in actions, according as they are referred to another active principle. Because nothing accidental constitutes a species, but only that which is essential; and a difference of object may be essential in reference to one active principle, and accidental in reference to another. Thus to know color and to know sound, differ essentially in reference to sense, but not in reference to the intellect.
Now in human actions, good and evil are predicated in reference to the reason; because as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), "the good of man is to be in accordance with reason," and evil is "to be against reason." For that is good for a thing which suits it in regard to its form; and evil, that which is against the order of its form. It is therefore evident that the difference of good and evil considered in reference to the object is an essential difference in relation to reason; that is to say, according as the object is suitable or unsuitable to reason. Now certain actions are called human or moral, inasmuch as they proceed from the reason. Consequently it is evident that good and evil diversify the species in human actions; since essential differences cause a difference of species.Reply to Objection 1.
Even in natural things, good and evil, inasmuch as something is according to nature, and something against nature, diversify the natural species; for a dead body and a living body are not of the same species. In like manner, good, inasmuch as it is in accord with reason, and evil, inasmuch as it is against reason, diversify the moral species.Reply to Objection 2.
Evil implies privation, not absolute, but affecting some potentiality. For an action is said to be evil in its species, not because it has no object at all; but because it has an object in disaccord with reason, for instance, to appropriate another's property. Wherefore in so far as the object is something positive, it can constitute the species of an evil act.Reply to Objection 3.
The conjugal act and adultery, as compared to reason, differ specifically and have effects specifically different; because the other deserves praise and reward, the other, blame and punishment. But as compared to the generative power, they do not differ in species; and thus they have one specific effect.Reply to Objection 4.
A circumstance is sometimes taken as the essential difference of the object, as compared to reason; and then it can specify a moral act. And it must needs be so whenever a circumstance transforms an action from good to evil; for a circumstance would not make an action evil, except through being repugnant to reason.