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Commentary and Reflection

“He has been tested in every way like us, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15)

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church

Discourse on the Psalms, Ps 60; CCL 39, 766

“Hear, O God, my cry; listen to my prayer! From the earth's end I call to you as my heart grows faint” (Ps 60[61]:2-3). “Earth's end”, namely everywhere... So it isn't only one person who is saying these things; and yet, yes it is one person because there is only one Christ whose members we are (Eph 5:30)... He who is calling from earth's end feels faint but is not abandoned. For it is we ourselves, that is, his body, whom the Lord willed to prefigure in his own body... He represented us in his own person when he willed to be tempted by Satan. In the Gospel we read that our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the desert. In Christ it was you who were tempted since from you Christ took his flesh to give you his salvation, from you he took his death to give you his life, from you he underwent his mockery to give you his honor. So it was also from you he took his temptations to give you his victory. If we are tempted in him, it is in him, too, that we triumph over the devil. Have you noticed how Christ was tempted but failed to notice that he won the victory? Recognize yourself as being tempted in him, recognize yourself as the victor in him. He might well have prevented the devil from approaching him but if he had not been tempted, how could he have taught you how to triumph over temptation? So there's nothing surprising about it if, buffeted by temptations, he calls from earth's end, according to this psalm. But why isn't he overcome? The psalm continues: “You will set me high upon a rock”... Let us recall the Gospel: “Upon this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16:18). So what he wanted to build on the rock was the Church who calls from earth's end. But who has become a rock so that the Church might be built on the rock? Hear Saint Paul telling us: “The rock is the Christ” (1Cor 10:4). Thus it is on him that we are built. And yet see how the rock on which we were built was the first to be buffeted by winds, floods and rain when Christ was tempted by the devil (Mt 7:25). See the unshakeable foundation on which he wished to set you!