(Source: "Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 55-57, 1937 Imp.)
CHRIST HAD TO BE TEMPTED IN THE DESERT
was in the desert forty days and forty nights: and
was tempted by Satan. -Mark i. 13.
1. It was
by Christ's own will that he was exposed
to the temptation by the devil, as it was also by his
own will that he was exposed to be slain by the limbs
of the devil. Had He not so willed, the devil would
have dared to approach him.
The devil is always more disposed to attack those
who are alone, because, as is said in Sacred Scrip-
ture, If a man shall prevail against one, two shall with
stand him easily (Eccles. iv. 12). That is why Christ
went out into the desert, as one going out
battle-ground, that there he might be tempted by
the devil. Whereupon St. Ambrose says that Christ
went into the desert for the express purpose of
provoking the devil. For unless the devil had fought,
Christ would never have overcome him for me.
St. Ambrose gives other reasons too. He says
that Christ chose the desert as the place to be
tempted for a hidden
reason, namely that he might
free from his exile Adam who, from Paradise, was
driven into the desert; and again that he did
for a reason in which there is no mystery, namely
to show us that the devil envies those who are
tending towards a better life.
2. We say with St. Chrysostom that Christ
to the temptation because the
devil most of all tempts those whom he sees alone.
So in the very beginning of things he tempted
woman, when he found her away from her husband.
It does not however follow from this that a man
ought to throw himself into any occasion of
temptation that presents itself.