Figure and Fulfillment – Fr. Buehler
Do you know the difference between superstition and faith? Superstition is believing something that is not grounded in reason. For instance, a burnt blob on a piece of toast that looks sort of like the Blessed Mother is not a sign of God’s favor. Faith, however, is believing in what is unseen, but firmly grounded in reason. Don’t the Scriptures often refer to the power of witness, the sign value of a genuine miracle, or the fulfillment of some prophecy? Our Catholic faith has a powerful foundation of credibility. One aspect of that foundation is the manner in which God prepared for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus didn’t just show up unannounced and claim to be God. Rather, God laid the foundations gradually over thou-sands of years, in numerous, rich ways. A theology professor of mine wrote the following paragraphs:
“…God‘s preparation for the Incarnation of Christ is truly awe-inspiring. He formed a special people for the period of two thou-sand years. He nourished them with repeat-ed revelations and astounding miracles. He taught them the sublime truth that there is but one God, almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. He gave them a Law which declared in writing the commandments written on man’s heart. He gave them hope in His coming as Messiah and made of that hope the center of their national existence. He gave them varied and numerous prophecies about His future coming, as well as about other events of their history. He prepared for His coming also by symbolic representations which theologians speak of as Biblical typology. In this way, He fed the Jewish people with manna in the desert so as to foreshadow and symbolize the great future blessing of the Eucharist. He led them out through the Red Sea so as to symbolize the sacrament of Baptism. He ordained the paschal sacrifice of the lamb to symbolize His own sacrifice on the Cross, the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
A great part of this preparation consisted in a progressive revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation to Israel through manifold and abundant prophecies. Indeed, hundreds of prophecies of the Messiah can be found in the Old Testament. No other figure in history has been the subject of such a quantity of prophecy, spanning 2,000 years. This makes perfect sense when we consider the significance of the event foretold. If God truly wished to become incarnate in history to redeem man, then He certainly would have repeatedly announced the event in solemn form. The fact that there are so many prophecies is in perfect harmony with the unique claim of Christianity. For without Old Testament prophecy, Christ’s claim to be the divine Redeemer of mankind would not have been credible.”
In summary: even if there was only a handful of prophecies about the Messiah, it would be difficult for one person to fulfill them. For there to be over 300 prophecies given over a two thousand year span, it is statistically impossible for them all to be fulfilled in one man… and yet that is exactly what happened. The hand of God at work? This is a strong reason to believe.
A good Advent homework assignment? Look up ‘list of prophecies foretelling Jesus,’ to dive more deeply into how God prepared for the coming of his Son… 2,000 years ago, and for you and me today.