Why Are You Afraid?

From “Sermon 2 On the Creed” (ca. 450)

A tiny child is born who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom, he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.

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 child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of many children.

You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their little ones, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear in destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.

Quodvultdeus (d.450) was Bishop of Carthage and a disciple of St. Augustine’s, who defended Catholic teaching against Arianism in his native North Africa, and after his exile by the Vandals, in Southern Italy. Twelve of his sermons survive.

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