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The devil is the head of evil doers; and the wicked are the members of this head, like Pilate, the persecuting Jews, the soldiers who crucified Christ.  Through His temptation in the desert, Christ is teaching us how to overcome temptation, thus avoiding evil.  

The three stages of temptation are suggestion, pleasure or delight and consent.  Christ, being God, could not be tempted in this manner so His temptations are purely external; but, with us, it is internal.  

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, had three temptations, too:  1) gluttony 2) vainglory and 3) avarice.  The devil overcame our first parents and they fell under this power.  Gluttony -- they were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit; vainglory -- they were tempted "ye shall be as Gods"; and avarice -- they were offered the knowledge of good and evil.  

Christ's temptations were similar.  Gluttony -- He was tempted to change stone into bread; vainglory -- He was tempted to cast Himself down from the parapet; avarice --  He was offered the kingdoms of the world.  

So Christ overcame what overcame Adam and Eve.  By this, He showed us how to overcome all temptations.  Adam and Eve welcomed Satan into their hearts;  Christ showed us how to force him out of our hearts. 

Christ answered the devil with patience using the words of Holy Scriptures.  He answered NOT by a desire for revenge, not with impatience, not with anger. . .as if saying, "Do not destroy the enemy, you patiently endure him."  

Christ stayed in the desert for 40 days, i.e., 10 x 4.  10 symbolizes all the commands and 4 symbolizes the four gospels.  Therefore, 40 symbolizes obedience to all the commands as found in the four gospels.  

Our worldly desires are what make us despise the commands of Christ.  Therefore, it is these desires that must be chastised.  So, mortify your bodies as your strength allows, to weaken its lustful desires.  A man becomes a living sacrifice when he has died to the desire of his body.  It is the pleasure-loving body that leads us to sin.  Mortification acquires for us forgiveness.  Adam fell by eating; we return by fasting.  

Fasting, however, is not enough.  What you deny yourself must be given to the needy.  Scriptures condemned those who fasted but gave not to the needy but saved what was given up for themselves.  Scripture has it:  "Sanctify a fast," i.e. to give up what is rightfully ours to give it to the poor.

St. Augustine, "On the Gospels"






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