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On the Fittingness of Christ's Temptation

Taken from Medulla S. Thomae Aquinatis which arranges various short texts from St. Thomas Aquinas' corpus based on the liturgical year. I will be posting the day's meditation each day and will be bringing it into print once I'm through it.

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First Sunday of Lent

On the Fittingness of Christ's Temptation

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)

Christ wished to be tempted:

1. That He might strengthen us against temptations. Hence Gregory says in a homily (xvi in Evang.): It was not unworthy of our Redeemer to wish to be tempted, who came also to be slain; in order that by His temptations He might conquer our temptations, just as by His death He overcame our death.

2. That we might be warned, so that none, however holy, may think himself safe or free from temptation. Wherefore also He wished to be tempted after His baptism, because, as Hilary says (Super Matth., cap. iii.): The temptations of the devil assail those principally who are sanctified, for he desires, above all, to overcome the holy. Hence also it is written (Sir 2): Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.

3. In order to give us an example; that is, to teach us how to overcome the temptations of the devil. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. iv) that Christ allowed Himself to be tempted by the devil, that He might be our Mediator in overcoming temptations, not only by helping us, but also by giving us an example.

4. In order to fill us with confidence in His mercy. Hence it is written (Heb 4:15): We have not a high-priest, who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.

(Selections from ST IIIa q41 a1)


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