Archbishop’s Teaching

3rd Sunday after The Resurrection (Luke 24:13-35)

Homily of His Excellency Msgr. Selim Sfeir Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

"But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." Luke 24:16

It was the evening of the day of the resurrection. The resurrection had taken place, the tomb was empty, the women had verified it, so had the disciples, but Jesus was out of sight. But Jesus was out of sight. Where is he?

"And behold, that same day, two disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, far from Jerusalem"; they left the place of the resurrection and go far from Jerusalem. They leave the other disciples gathered there and set off alone for their village, while the eyes of history as a whole remain fixed to this day on the mystery of the resurrection and the empty tomb there. The mystery of the resurrection has made their compass lose its intuition!

They walk on the wrong path, getting lost, unable to understand what is happening around them. There, on the wrong path, God approaches them, walks with them and talks with them, "But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him."

He speaks to them and explains the Scriptures to them, but they fail to recognize him. During a seven-mile walk, he explains the Old Testament Scriptures to them, and how they refer to him, but their minds are not opened to know him. Why did their eyes not recognize him?

As the day waned and evening fell, and he continued to talk to them as he walked, he pretended to go further, but they asked him to stay with them, so he stopped and went in to stay with them.

Scripture tells us, "While he was sitting at table with them, he took the bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them." Do not these words remind us of an event that touches our faith? Are these not the "verbs" that the priest always performs when he pronounces the words of consecration on God's altar, words that Jesus pronounced at the sacramental Last Supper?

When he "took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him." And when they recognized him, they did not stay in Emmaus, but "rising at that same hour, they returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven, and those who were with them, gathered together."

All along the way, they had not recognized him, for they had walked on the wrong way, leaving the Church represented by the apostles gathered in Jerusalem, and moving away from the heart of the crucial event, the resurrection, the foundation of the Christian faith.

We often ask ourselves today: why doesn't Jesus stay with us, where is he? We wish he were still always with us!

I say to you today: let us go back to the empty tomb, let us go back to the Church, let us come out of the wrong paths we have taken in this world, by leaving the resurrection behind us, let us go back and gather again around the apostles and the altar of the Church, to find that Jesus is there, always with us.

Yes, he is with us, for he said, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am there with them." (Matthew 18:20).

He is with us because he promised, " I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age." (Matthew 28:20).

He is with us in the mystery of the Eucharist every time we gather to break bread, only then, as the eyes of the disciples on Emmaus were opened, our eyes are opened to recognize and see him, and we enter into communion with him in the Eucharist.

† Selim Sfeir

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


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