MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Why Christ Enters the Desert
I think that this is the reason for fasting—that since the first Adam, when he was in paradise, had forfeited the glory of immortality through his gluttonous intemperance, Christ, the second Adam, might restore the same immortality through his abstinence. And now, because he had incurred the sin of death by going against the commands of God and tasting of the forbidden tree, the Lord in his fasting, in conformity with the commandment, might merit the righteousness of life…. For this reason he wished to be born according to the likeness of Adam in every respect, so that in the likeness of Adam he might destroy all the sins of humanity. For Adam was born of the virgin earth and Christ was begotten of the Virgin Mary…. Adam is formed from mire by the hands of God, while Christ is formed in the womb by the Spirit of God. Each comes forth with God as father, then; each has a virgin for mother; each, as the Evangelist says, is a son of God, but Adam is a creature and Christ is a Son in substance….
In the desert the Savior fulfills the command of God, so that he might save the wandering Adam in the very place where he had been dispossessed of paradise. Adam, when he was cast out of paradise, endured the desert places of a harsh world. It is in the desert, then, that salvation is first restored to humankind—there where there are no rich foods, where there are no pleasures…. In paradise the devil contends with Adam, and in the desert the devil struggles with Christ…. The very body of the Christian is in a sense a desert when it is not filled with food and cheered with drink…. Then Christ the Lord inhabits the desert of our body—when he has found that our land is desolate because of hunger and parched because of thirst. Then the Savior dwelling in this desert of our body overcomes there all the factions of the devil, and safe and secure from the thoughts of this world he takes it for his habitation, so that from then on we might see heaven and earth within ourselves…. That is to say, we might think of nothing other than the Lord of the heavenly Kingdom and the author of earthly resurrection.
Saint Maximus of Turin
Saint Maximus of Turin († 5th century) was the first Bishop of Turin, Italy, and an outstanding biblical scholar and preacher. / From The Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin (ACW), translated and annotated by Boniface Ramsey, o.p. © 1989 by Boniface Ramsey, o.p., Newman Press, an imprint of Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. www.paulistpress.com. Used with ermission.