On Sunday morning on September 27, following in the footsteps of Simon and Cleopas, religious pilgrims left for Emmaus Qubeybeh in order to celebrate their feast. The border checkpoint, which is usually closed in the returning direction, was specially opened for this day so as to let the two busloads of pilgrims pass through. Unlike Simon and Cleopas, who were “downcast,” the pilgrims and friars were in high spirits for this morning pilgrimage, since they were aware of the good news.
The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Custodial Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jasztal. In his homily, the vicar emphasized that “[Simon and Cleophas] had seen all the miracles but they still reasoned like everyone else:” “But we were hoping that he would be the one…” (Luke 24: 21). Similarly we must not be worn down by our failures, but we must remember our first encounter with Christ that was designed to free us from fear.”
Mass was also an opportunity to pay due homage to the church. The large assembly and organ, played by Marcus, a German volunteer, made the sanctuary, which rarely hosts pilgrims, vibrate. Located behind the separation wall, the sanctuary has truly been inaccessible for several years.
The guardian of Cleopas’ house and of the sanctuary of Emmaus Qubeybeh, Br. Younes Salem, OFM, who is alone here all year long, welcomed the pilgrims with a festive meal. In order to make the place livelier, the Custody has plans to host some perpetually adoring Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who are already present at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem. They would carry out their mission of worship at the convent adjacent to the church, and some apartments in what was the Seraphic Seminary would be set up for the brothers of the Custody and for the Sisters of the Catechism who live in the area.
To better experience life in Emmaus Qubeybeh, also read our article Passing through Emmaus El Qubeybeh.