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Feast of the Holy Innocents

A few excerpts from a sermon by Quodvultdeus, 5th century Bishop of Carthage, on Holy Innocents day.

On what drove Herod to slaughter babies in Bethlehem:

Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a King? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one Chile whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children. … You destroy those with tiny bodies because fear is destroying your heart.

On grace and martyrdom:

God has taken up the children of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children. The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The children make of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to themselves. … How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

Reading through Malcolm Guite’s Waiting on the Word has been a joy this season.

And through it I learned this week that NT scholar Richard Bauckham is actually a brilliant poet himself.

Here is Guite reading Bauckham’s Song of the Shepherds.

Feast of St. Stephen

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, who was among the first deacons and the first recorded Christian martyr of the New Testament. On his Feast Day, I want to share with you a selection from a sermon preached in the sixth century by Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe in Northern Africa.
Before the excerpt, I recommend reading two passages of Scripture that help set the scene. The first is from 2 Chronicles 24:17-22 and tells of the martyrdom of Zecheriah. The second is from Acts 7:51-8:3, which portrays the martyrdom of Stephen under the approval of Saul.
May these readings and the words of St. Fulgentius encourage us all as we continue to celebrate and be changed by the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Sermon by St. Fulgentius on the Feast of St. Stephen
Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier.
Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.
Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvellous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.
And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbour made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.
Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exults, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.
Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end.

I cannot think unless I have been thought, nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.

Fr. Malcolm Guite’s take on O Sapientia

A gem from today’s commemoration of Katharina Luther:

Martin Luther was unsure of whether he should marry. However, he eventually came to the conclusion that “his marriage would please his father, rile the pope, cause the angels to laugh, and the devils to weep.”

Matthew 15:

Jesus has harsh words for two groups of people.

(1) the Pharisees, and (2) a Gentile woman.

Their respective responses (v.12 for Pharisees, v.27 for woman) to those harsh words could not be more different, and is likely what Matthew is drawing our attention to.

On September 28th, I was ordained a Priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. It was a beautiful and chaotic end of one journey that is also the beginning of another.

Sermon: The Wise Fool

Sermon: Holy, Holy, Holy (Trinity Sunday)

Sermon: You were made to Reign