Look at the painting on the left. Can you imagine the place? Do you know somewhere like it? Can you imagine yourself walking along the path? Perhaps you have walked such a walk. Not exactly the same in detail, but similar.
The artist, Robert Zund (1826 – 1909) painted rural scenes of his native Switzerland, and neighbouring countries. The painting is probably based on scenes of his home area.
This painting is part of a larger one, entitled The Road to Emmaus. Two travellers puzzled and distressed by the crucifixion and death of Jesus walk, dejected, to their home village, Emmaus. They are joined by a stranger who explains the scriptures and breaks bread with them – in the breaking of the bread they realise the stranger is Jesus himself.
Look now at the complete painting. As you do read the words below.
We are on the path, Emmaus is really everywhere, the road that leads there is the path of every Christian, indeed, every human being.”
On our own journeys, the risen Jesus is a travelling companion, who may appear as a stranger, who “rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope and the breaking of the bread of eternal life.” The disciples’ on the Road to Emmaus were experiencing a crisis of faith. The use of the past tense by one of the unknown disciples says it all: “We hoped, we believed, we followed…but now everything, even Jesus of Nazareth, who had shown Himself to be a prophet mighty in deed and word, even he failed, and we were left disappointed.”
“Who has not experienced in life a moment like this?”
“Sometimes our faith enters into a crisis, which, because of negative experiences, makes us feel abandoned and betrayed by the Lord.” But the story of Emmaus suggests instead that it is possible to encounter the risen Jesus “still today”. “Still today, Jesus speaks to us in the Scripture; still today Jesus gives us his Body and his Blood”.
The road to Emmaus becomes the way to a questioning, open and mature faith. “An encounter with the risen Christ gives us a deeper faith, one that is authentic, tempered, so to speak, through the fire of Easter, a faith robust because it is from the word of God and the Eucharist, not human ideas.”