The writer of Psalm 8 asks God, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
The Psalm answers its own question, in part by pointing back to the wisdom of Genesis. God made human beings as the crowning point of a sequential process of creation, and entrusted us with a stewardship role meant to mirror God’s own stewardship of his handiwork. But after the long history of Israel’s defection from the patterns of creation and God’s covenants, many wondered whether the Creator’s original intentions for our role in the world still remained.
We discern the most decisive answer to Psalm 8’s question, in Jesus’ resurrection. This Easter mystery has two dimensions. Clearly, the first centers on Jesus. But we don’t understand the first dimension until we perceive the significance of the second, which concerns us. Through Baptism, God raises us to a shared-life with Jesus, where we dwell in the presence of unqualified truth, pure goodness and absolute beauty.
When Jesus ‘opened the scriptures’ to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke tells us that, “he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures.” The Psalmist’s question was surely one of the texts Jesus connected with himself, and then with them.
Jesus’ resurrection appearances to his followers nurtured a process of recognition that began prior to his death. Earlier, his teaching and his ‘signs’ prompted some to say that God was with Jesus, acting through him in a powerful way.
But after experiencing his resurrection and through having the scriptures opened to them, they perceived something further. Instead of saying that Jesus is from God, their eyes were opened to see that Jesus is God. And whereas, before, they could say that Jesus reveals the lord God, they could now identify Jesus as the lord God. To call him lord was more than to honor him as an esteemed teacher, and more than a pointed contrast with the emperor who used the same title. By beginning to confess Jesus as Lord, they identified him with the God who had revealed himself to Moses.
As the two disciples discerned on the way to Emmaus, in the risen Jesus we meet and are brought into fellowship with the One who was, and is, and is to come.
The above 11th century stone carving, Disciples of Emmaus, is found in the Cloister of Santo Domingo de Silos, in Burgos, Spain. The road to Emmaus story is found in Luke 24:13-35.