Saint Anthony of Padua tells us that Jesus, in the temptation of the desert, fought against and beat the temptations which first wrecked humanity, trapping it in sin. “The Sin of Adam was the destruction and the weakening of the human race. It consists in three things: greed, vainglory and avarice.” Jesus accomplished in the desert what Adam had failed to do in the garden, reversing the damage done by Adam. “The Son of God came at the acceptable time, and being obedient to God the Father he restored what was lost, curing opposites by opposites. Adam was placed in Paradise, and there, seeking pleasure, he fell. Jesus was led into the desert, and there, by constant fasting, he overcame the devil.”
Greed, represented by the desire for the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was overcome, not only by fasting, but by understanding our need for spiritual food. We are not to live by bread alone; we are not to be attached to material things as if they will perpetually sustain us. Adam, however, became attached to the food before him, thinking it alone would suffice; this turned humanity’s vision downward, from a holistic approach which saw heaven and earth together, to the earth alone. Material goods alone do not satisfy; attaching ourselves to them, we keep trying to get more and more; we find ourselves in a cycle of never-ending want. Only when we open ourselves up to the spiritual side can we be truly satisfied; fasting is the means by which we detach ourselves from mere bread, and open ourselves to the spiritual reality which will give us our heavenly bread, that which can truly will nourish us and satisfy us.
Adam’s vainglory was in the assumption that he could become a God unto himself, that he, turning himself into the material world, can keep perpetual control over it as if he were its God. “Adam too tempted the Lord God, when he disobeyed the command of his Lord and God, and too easily believed the false promise, You will be as gods.”  He was led to believe he would be like God, to be God over the world; and as a God, he would need nothing more ever again. Satan showed Jesus the temple and said, prove yourself to be a God, throw yourself down, and prove yourself invincible: as a God, you will be protected, as a God, you will control the angels and they will keep you safe. Jesus’ reply is that God should not be tested. There is no need for Jesus to prove himself, to take on worldly glory, to show off; he came to be a humble, loving servant, such humility was to be the proof of his Godhood. God loves, and love seeks to raise the beloved, not the self; vainglory only leads to further condemnation, to being further away from that which it claims to possess. “What vainglory to think one could become God! What a wretched man! Because of your stupidity in setting yourself above your proper state, you fell blow it in miserable ruin. This is why you should not tempt the Lord your God!”
A purely materialistic outlook, which separates matter from the spirit, and sees that all that is good and needed is found in matter must be rejected. We must free matter from the corruption of sin, from its being closed off to the spirit; we must let matter be penetrated by the spirit and thrive in that spirit. It is time for us to follow the example of Christ. Let this lesson remind us of our life, that it is, in a way, one long lent. Will we go through the desert of life, and find ourselves in the holy land? Only if we follow the example given to us, and put on Christ. “For our sakes, Jesus entered the womb of the Virgin and bore the shame of the Cross. Taught by his example, let us go into the desert of penitence. With his help let us resist the wind of vainglory and the fire of avarice.” Let us overcome, with Christ, the temptations which destroyed humanity, so that with Christ, we can be lifted up, and hear “Well done, my beloved son” or “Well done, my beloved daughter.”