Archbishop’s Teaching

6th Sunday after The Resurrection

Homily of His Excellency Msgr. Selim Sfeir Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus Jesus appears to the disciples (Luke 24 / 36-48)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


This text takes place on Resurrection Day, after Jesus has appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and they have returned to Jerusalem to inform the apostles of their vision of Jesus. All are filled with a mixture of joy and fear. It is at this moment that Jesus appears to them!


The question this text raises in our minds, often answered incorrectly is: why did Jesus appear to the disciples? Why didn't he appear to the world? The answer seems obvious: to confirm his resurrection from the dead! But that is just the beginning of the answer. If we examine the text more closely, we discover that there is a continuation to this answer, perhaps the most important part!


Jesus appeared to the disciples to confirm the words he had spoken to them while he was with them, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. He appeared to assure them that he is with them after his death and resurrection, just as he was before: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20.

Jesus appeared to the disciples to continue with them the communion he had initiated with them before his death and resurrection, a communion based on personal, sensitive and tangible experience. This appearance is both constructive and targeted.

Constructive, because it builds confidence through the experience of the Lord's resurrection from the dead, a tangible experience in their lives, where doubt no longer has any place in their faith. And targeted, because the Lord entrusts the disciples with a mission based on this trust and this experience: “It's up to you to be witnesses.” This mission is not entrusted exclusively to the apostles by Jesus, but is also passed on to us through Revelation, to be our mission as well!


All those who bear witness in the world's religions testify to an experience they had with the founders of those religions before their death, or their philosophy. But the disciples of Jesus Christ bear witness to their experience with the Risen One from the dead.


The power of Christian testimony lies in the fact that it is based on personal experience and faith, not on intellectual knowledge and human logic, for intellectual knowledge cannot conceive of God. As the apostle Paul said, “The world, by wisdom knew not God...” 1 Corinthians 1:21.


Christian testimony is based on knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ, the one who rose from the dead, as the apostle Paul tells us: “I want to know Christ, to experience the power of his resurrection...” Philippians 3:10. It is not just about knowing about him or knowing his teachings, but knowing him in person and interacting with him. This knowledge and experience are still a living interaction with us today, because Jesus is still alive.


The personal manifestation of Jesus in our lives and the experience of his resurrection are linked to our love for him. Therefore, he appears to those who love him and not to the world. It was he who said: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father; I will love him too, and manifest myself to him.” At this, one of the disciples asked him, “Lord, what's going on? Is it to us that you are going to manifest yourself, and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and to him we will make our dwelling.” John 14:21-23.


This is how we understand why today's reading text tells us, “Then he opened their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.” And that's how we understand the importance of knowing God's Word!


If we want Jesus to manifest himself in our lives, let's ask the Lord to open our minds to the knowledge of his Word, so that we can enter into a deep communion and experience with the Risen One, to love him, so that he manifests himself to us, and we live with him. Only then will we testify to a real, tangible experience of Jesus' resurrection in our lives, and his words to the apostles will be true for us: “You are witnesses of these things."


“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19


† Selim Sfeir

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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