Some years ago, I attended a lecture by Fordham’s noted patristics scholar, Joseph Lienhard, S.J. He spoke on the early Church father, Origen. As I recall, the leitmotif of the presentation was that Origen, in his homilies, stressed to the congregation: “etiam nunc,” today also! The Scripture readings were not merely “once upon a time” – “in illo tempore” – but today!
Richard Smith, a fellow priest of the New York Archdiocese, still fresh from defending his doctoral dissertation on Origen under Lienhard, kindly provided me with this example in Lienhard’s own translation. Origen is preaching on Luke 4, the gospel for this Sunday’s Eucharist, and exclaims:
But when Jesus had read the passage, he rolled up “the scroll, gave it to the servant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” Now too, if you want it, your eyes can be fixed on the Savior in this synagogue, here in this assembly. For, when you direct the principal power of seeing in your heart to wisdom and truth, and to contemplating God’s Only-Begotten, your eyes gaze on Jesus. Blessed is that congregation of which Scripture testifies that “the eyes of all were fixed on him”! How much would I wish that this assembly gave such testimony. I wish that the eyes of all (of catechumens and faithful, of women, men and children) — not the eyes of the body but the eyes of the soul — would gaze upon Jesus. For, when you look to him, your faces will be shining from the light of his gaze. You will be able to say, “The light of your face, O Lord, has made its mark upon us.” To him is glory and power for ages of ages. Amen.