These days it seems prudent to root ourselves in stories of our faith. While our times seem steeped in confusion and uncertainty, we can find comfort in an approach to seeing life as journey buoyed by a commitment to accompaniment and encounter. Our lives of prayer and contemplation are important tools to help us be a people of hope.
The Road to Emmaus
In the pastoral letter on Catholic education “Renewing the Promise” – we are encouraged to use the Emmaus story as inspiration for a way forward in this age. Firstly, the Emmaus story (often ascribed as ‘The Road to Emmaus’) inspires us to think about the narrative of journey and destination simultaneously. Perhaps more importantly the journey on the road is filled with images of consolation and desolation; it is beset with fear and comfort and uncertainty and clarity. It is the perfect metaphor for our times. In its destination – we are transformed by a personal experience with Christ through the opening of scripture and through sacrament (Eucharist). Consider the image of the Road to Emmaus from the St. John’s Bible (saintjohnsbible.org). It reflects these sentiments and more. This image is useful for careful contemplation in conjunction with a prayer of visio divina. The piece concerns itself with images of journey; an interplay of light and dark; pictures that are simultaneously blurred and precise.
Encounter and Transformation
The comfort that comes from transformation is easier said than done. What does the story say to us about how we come to this moment of clarity and comfort? The transformational experience cannot happen without the journey – it is a journey that requires encounter and accompaniment. The story is about relationship. We yearn for a closer relationship with God and He reaches out to us for the same. For the disciples, fear, isolation, despair and perhaps flight get in the way of seeing things as they ought to be. This is true today! When we surround ourselves with narratives of tumult, and park all that we see inside that narrative, it is nearly impossible to see that He is with us. This painting from Fra Bartolommeo emphasizes the relational focus in the Road to Emmaus. The disciple appears to seek the comfort of Christ – he reaches out and grabs the wrist of Christ. Christ appears to be carrying his pack on his back – this will not be His first or last encounter with us for comfort. In the story and subsequent stories after the resurrection (this time in the Gospel of Luke but also throughout the Acts of the Apostles) humans struggle to see that Christ is among us. Inevitably, we need this difficult journey and the accompaniment of each other with God to see it through.
In closing, the road ahead is always the Road to Emmaus. We journey beside one another sometimes aware and sometimes unaware that God is with us. For the upcoming months, let us all be mindful that journey, encounter and transformation are all necessary steps for our salvation. If the road ahead seems uncertain – let us all reflect upon the experience of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus so we can fully commit ourselves to being a mission-oriented school system that forms disciples of Jesus.