Understanding Jesus through the Prophets
Prophetic literature is featured during the 3rd Sunday of Advent with the first reading from a minor prophet and Isaiah for the responsorial instead of a Psalm. It is a focus of mine with my catechism classes to emphasize the role of The Bible’s prophetic literature, and the Old Testament covenant history, as essential for understanding Who Jesus is and His mission. One of the great issues with both catechesis and preaching in Catholicism is, at the very least, a New Testament reductionism, or simply Gospel reductionism. Gospel reductionism was a term originating from Missouri-Synod Lutheran confession defining the position of more progressive movements of Lutheranism breaking away from Confessional Lutheranism in an attempt to ‘modernize’ Christianity during the 20th century.
Gospel Reductionism is an important concept that should be further developed within a Catholic context with a Catholic definition and understanding as the post-conciliar Catholic Church sees Jesus as only some vague concept of the Good Shepherd only understood in the context of the New Testament. In the Catholic context, in much of recent biblical commentary and other theology discourses, there seems to be a disconnect from the role of Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s covenantal history. I have students who can’t tell me who are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. I stress with them that if you really want to know who Jesus is and His mission, you must know the story in which He fulfills the promises (Rom. 4) (Ps. 61).
Jesus reads and identifies his mission from the book of the prophet Isaiah chapter 61 at the beginning of His ministry in reference to the spirit of Yahweh and concludes that through Him this prophecy is fulfilled:
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel continually point toward the fact that the restoration of God will include the people outside of Israel. the Christian proposes that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Is. 40-53), He is the New Covenant Restoration of the Davidic King (Je. 31-33), and He is Yahweh as the Good Shepherd (Ez. 34). St. Augustine explains in the City of God quoting Isaiah 10:22:
“And it is their own Scriptures that bear witness that it is not we who are the inventors of the prophecies touching Christ. That is why many of them, who pondered these prophecies before His passion and more especially after His Resurrection, have come to believe in Him, as was foretold: ‘For if thy people, O Israel, shall be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be converted.’
 Lk 4:20–22, ESVCE.
 Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Books XVII–XXII, ed. Hermigild Dressler, trans. Gerald G. Walsh and Daniel J. Honan, vol. 24, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954), 164.