Today’s readings are a great example of how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. At times, it takes a great deal of study to see it, and then, on other days like today, it’s right there!
In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, despite the reluctance of Ahaz to ask for a sign from God, one is given by God, where it says, “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
By the way, the exchange between the Lord through the prophet with Ahaz is so revealing and, for me, real. God wants Ahaz to ask Him for a sign so that Ahaz may grow in faith. Ahaz is afraid because he thinks it is wrong that he would be putting God to the test. It shows how a king or any of us can think we know God’s ways, to the point that we get in His way of helping us grow in faith.
Going back to our readings, God promises a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel, meaning God is with us. Right there, we can see a two-fold connection to the gospel. First is the promise of a virgin bearing a son, and the second is that He will be God among us, God taking on human nature by being born of a woman.
As in most cases, the prophecy of the Old Testament reading is laid out in specific details in the New Testament; for example, we’re introduced to the angel Gabriel who greets the virgin Mary by telling her that she is “… full of grace!” And, like Ahaz, Mary also displays fear, even when Gabriel tells her that Lord is with her.
Perhaps we’ve had a similar type of reaction … for example, if you’ve ever had what some people call a “God moment,” a time when out of the blue, you felt God showed you something, whether through scripture, a conversation, or maybe at some random time in the day.
How did you react? Did you casually say, oh yeah, I get it God, and then start thinking about what you’re having for dinner, or were you startled or uncertain about what just happened? Not me; I’m usually surprised and then have lots of follow-up questions.
Mary is our role model. She reflects and is “greatly troubled” but keeps listening because of her faith. And, because she is able to keep listening and not run from God, she learns that she’s found favor with God and will bear a son who will be a great ruler in the line of David (more fulfillment from another passage in the Old Testament) and His Kingdom will never end.
Mary has more questions, and they are answered by the angel Gabriel. I think that’s another lesson that our journey or relationship with God is meant to be an ongoing dialogue, especially when we struggle to understand what God has in store for us.
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