The Fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah

Post Date: December 17, 2022
Author: Sacred Heart Blog

A Reflection on the Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2022

Reading 1 Is 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Reading 2 Rom 1:1-7
Gospel Mt 1:18-24

Our first reading this week comes from chapter 7 of Isaiah, and the interpretations and commentaries on this passage seem to have no end. But we need to understand the context.

But before I deal with the context, I would like to reiterate a point regarding the confusion that arises from using the names “Israel” and “Judah.” In reading the Old Testament, we often tend to think of the Jewish people as forming one nation known as Israel. But in the mid-10th century B.C., after the death of Solomon, King David’s son, that nation split into two nations; Israel in the north and Judah in the south (see 1st Kings for more information on that split). From that point on, they were two separate nations. They were never again reunited as one nation before both ceased to exist, with the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 B.C. and the Babylonian conquest of Judah in 587 B.C.

Now to the context of our first reading: Isaiah was called to the prophetic office “in the year that Uzziah died” (Is 6:1), which would be in the year 742 B.C. The kingdom of Assyria was growing in power and influence and was a threat to every neighboring nation. The kings of Syria (at this time known as Aram) and Israel conspired together against Judah to replace King Ahaz of Judah with a puppet king and, thereby, force Judah into a coalition with Aram and Israel against the advancing onslaught of Assyria. Ahaz, king of Judah, did not want to join the coalition and would eventually appeal to Assyria for protection from Aram and Israel. The date of this passage has to be prior to 722 B.C., the year that Israel was overthrown by Assyria, so the best guess is about 735 B.C.

In our passage from Isaiah this Sunday, God instructed Isaiah to appeal to Ahaz to hold firm in faith and not turn to Assyria for help, as Isaiah assured Ahaz that the coalition of Israel and Aram would fail. (Significantly, Isaiah was instructed to take his son, Shear-jashub, with him on this mission and, in Hebrew, Shear-jashub means: “a remnant will return.” This can certainly be taken as a prophetic reference to what will become known as “the purified remnant of Israel,” the remnant that will eventually be freed from the Babylonian Captivity around 548 B.C. and will return to Judah and Jerusalem.) Ahaz refused to listen to Isaiah, even when given the opportunity to seek a sign from God confirming that Isaiah was speaking the truth. Ahaz refused to seek a sign, but one was given without his asking, and it is this sign that has prompted endless interpretation and commentary: “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” In Hebrew, “Immanuel” means “God with us.”

Our reading this week doesn’t go quite far enough to shed a little more light on this prophecy. The next verse (7:15) tells us that before this child was mature enough to reject the bad and choose the good, Aram and Israel would no longer be a threat to Judah. That indicates a relatively short period of time, less than a generation, and within that generation, this prophecy came true as both Israel and Aram were overrun by Assyria.

So who is this child, and what is his significance? Christianity, of course, has always equated “the virgin” with the Virgin Mary and the child with Christ, a prophecy that would be fulfilled some 700 years later. Jewish scholars, of course, don’t see it the same way. One of their interpretations was that “the virgin” could be understood collectively as all young women in Judah; virgins to begin with, but who would eventually marry and bear sons and, out of reverence, name them Immanuel. But it seems the most popular interpretation was that this prophecy meant that somewhere in Judah, there was a young virgin, but she would eventually marry and bear a son who would be the next good king of Judah. That next “good king” was Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz. Hezekiah was thought of as a great reformer who abolished pagan worship practices and idols throughout Judah. Consequently, a major Jewish interpretation of this prophecy was that the child born of the “virgin” was Hezekiah. These interpretations would certainly resonate with the people of the time because no one would even consider the concept of a virgin giving birth.

Concerning our second reading, as most are probably aware, a major theme of St. Paul’s letters is that the “Law” (the Torah) is no longer binding for all who believe in Christ. Paul’s point is that the people are no longer bound by the law that they have never been able to follow; in other words, the law can’t save you because you cannot obey it fully. St. Paul tells us that salvation is not dependent upon the law but upon faith in the Son of God, who came to deliver humanity from the law. Therefore, in our second reading from The Letter to the Romans, St. Paul distinctly draws attention to Jesus’ lineage: Jesus is: “descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God …… through resurrection from the dead.” This is an important point! Through the resurrection of Christ, God abrogated the Torah (the law), which commands that anyone hung upon a tree was accursed (Dt 21:23). Paul’s point: Through resurrection from the dead, Jesus is established as the “Son of God.” If Jesus was cursed because of the crucifixion, why did God establish him as his son and raise him from the dead?

Our gospel passage relates to Matthew’s account of the conception of Jesus in the womb of his mother through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it also indicates how this put Joseph in a very difficult position. Joseph and Mary were “betrothed” but not living together. It was the common practice of these ancient societies that a couple would become betrothed – akin to what we would today call engagement – but would live separately for some months. But unlike our engagement, they were considered married, even though they did not share a household. If the woman was found to be pregnant during this time, it would be considered adultery, the penalty for which was stoning. Divorcing Mary “quietly” would probably not have been an option for Joseph as everyone in the area would have known they were married (betrothed), and when Mary began to show her pregnancy, everyone would have understood why the divorce happened.

In our gospel passage from Matthew, we have the “Annunciation” being made to Joseph by the “angel of the Lord,” whereas in Luke’s account, the annunciation is made to Mary. Because of this appearance of the angel to Joseph, he now fully understood the significance of the pregnancy and immediately showed compassion for Mary by taking her into his home to avoid the impropriety of adultery and the consequences of that sin to Mary. And Joseph, a descendent of David, by accepting Jesus as his own son, incorporates Jesus into “the House of David,” fulfilling the promise to David that his descendant would reign forever (see 2 Sam 7:11ff).

The “golden thread” of our readings this week is, quite plainly, the birth of Christ and, specifically, the virgin birth of Christ to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. And these readings are meant to prepare us for our two-fold Advent anticipation of the Incarnation of Christ at Christmas and his anticipated return in judgment at the end of time. Be prepared!!!

Recent Posts

To Forgive or Not Forgive

To Forgive or Not Forgive

A Reflection on the Readings for the 24thSunday in Ordinary Time, September 17, 2023 First Reading: SIR 27:30—28:7 Responsorial Psalm: PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12 Second Reading: ROM 14:7-9 Gospel: MT 18:21-35 Our gospel passage this week directly follows last...

Miracle of Life – Weeks 31st to 34th

Miracle of Life – Weeks 31st to 34th

Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything. - Ecclesiastes 11:5 Though we have spent weeks studying the intricate details of the weeks of pregnancy, there...

Monica’s Praise Report 8-23-23

Monica’s Praise Report 8-23-23

Praise be Jesus Christ!  Praise be His Holy name. May God be praised now and always, for He is God and wonderful is He and worthy to be praised. Thank You God for your providence. Thank You for your guidance and teachings. Thank You for your involvement in our lives....

Who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that I am?

He said to them, "but who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." -...

The Prayers God Always Answers

The Prayers God Always Answers

When I was a child, my mother bought a book called “The Prayers God Will Always Answer.” I remember my anticipation as I cracked the spine and turned to the first page. I had been spending a lot of time asking God — begging God, actually — over and over again for some...

The Choice of Stewardship

The Choice of Stewardship

What does it mean to be a good steward? Does it mean to be an active parishioner, or something more? Are we better stewards because we give more in terms of our money and time to our parish, or are we called to do even more than that? The truth is that stewardship is...

Encourage Deeper Understanding of Scripture

Encourage Deeper Understanding of Scripture

August 27, 2023 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Isn’t it a bit weird that Catholics call the Pope “papa,” father? This Sunday provides us with essential Scriptural background on the papacy, the petrine office. Jesus gives Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” after...

God and the Good Strong Wind

God and the Good Strong Wind

My only real memory of the Mackinac Island ferry was the physical sensation of the wind against my face. I remember, distinctly, that it hurt. It surprised and confused me because wind had never felt painful before. Looking back now, I realize that it wasn’t just the...

Miracle of Life – Weeks 27th to 30th

Miracle of Life – Weeks 27th to 30th

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. - Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift. They turn young women and men into mothers and fathers. They push us to see life differently, to focus on what matters and to seek for the things eternal in a search...

He is Calling

He is Calling

A Reflection on the Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 13, 2023 Gospel: Mt 14:22-33 A man at my parish was struggling to overcome a habitual sin. He said to me, “Father, I know the chance that I will commit sin again is really high. Why should I keep...

Local Angels

(Our Sponsors)

For more information on how to showcase your business and sponsor this site, please send us an email.

Only 6 2 spots available, first come first served! One sponsor per industry.


View a calendar of upcoming events

Our History

Learn the history of our Parish

Clergy and Staff

Meet our clergy and staff members!

How to Become Catholic

Interested in becoming Catholic?

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Mass Times

Sunday 10 am

Weekend Mass Times

Saturday Vigil

5:00 pm | 7:00 pm SP


7:30 am | 10:00 am | 12:30 pm SP | 3:00 pm SP | 5:30 pm

Contact Info

109 North Frazier St.
Conroe, TX, 77301


Follow Us On

Join Our Newsletter!