Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Origen of Alexandria
Today this text is being fulfilled.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone sang his praises. (Gospel)
When you read about Jesus teaching in the synagogues of Galilee and everyone there praising him, take care not to regard those people as uniquely privileged, and yourselves as deprived of his teaching.
If scripture is true, it was not only to the Jewish congregations of his own generation that our Lord spoke. He still speaks to us assembled here today—and not only to us, but to other congregations also.
Throughout the world Jesus looks for instruments through which he can continue his teaching. Pray that I may be one of them, and that he may find me ready and fit to sing his praises.
Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as was his custom. When he stood up to read they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written, 'The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. (Gospel)
It was no coincidence, but in accordance with the plan of divine providence, that Jesus unrolled the scroll and found in it this chapter prophesying about himself.
Since it is written: “Not a single sparrow will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission,” and the apostles were told that every hair on their heads had been counted, we can be sure it was not by chance that the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was produced rather than some other and this precise passage found which speaks of the mystery of Christ: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.”
When Jesus had read this prophecy, “he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him.”
Here too in this synagogue, that is in this present assembly, you can at this very moment fix your eyes upon your Savior if you wish. Whenever you direct your inward gaze toward wisdom and truth and the contemplation of God’s only Son, then your eyes are fixed upon Jesus.
Blessed was that congregation of which the Gospel says, “All eyes in the synagogue were fixed upon him!” How I long for our own assembly to deserve the same testimony; for all of you, catechumens as well as the faithful, women, men, and children, to have your eyes, not those of the body but of the soul, turned toward Jesus!
When you look at Jesus your own faces will become radiant with his reflected glory, and you will be able to say: “The light of your face has shed its brightness upon us, O Lord!” To you be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
(On Luke’s Gospel 32, 2-6: SC 87, 386-392)
Origen (183-253), one of the greatest thinkers of ancient times, became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria at the age of eighteen. In 230 he was ordained priest by the bishop of Caesarea. His life was entirely devoted to the study of scripture and he was also a great master of the spiritual life. His book On First Principles was the first great theological synthesis. Many of his works are extant only in Latin as a result of his posthumous condemnation for heterodox teaching. Nevertheless, in intention he was always a loyal son of the Church.
**From Saint Louis University