The People of God began as a family, later grew into a tribe and eventually became a great nation. But they would also know upheaval and exile. The one prophet who spoke most forcibly about restoration and the coming of a Messiah was Isaiah. He gives a broken people the gift of hope:
“The Lord will give you a sign in any case: It is this: the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
This young maiden or virgin is Mary (Matthew 1:23). Similarly, the prophet Micah also speaks of a woman who would restore Israel. Understanding that those of the Church, Jew and Gentile alike, are members of the New Israel or New Zion, the prophecy fits Mary quite nicely:
“Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labor gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites” (Micah 5:3).
Given her unique role in salvation history as the vehicle through whom the All Holy One would enter our world, she herself is preserved from every stain of sin as the first fruits of his saving works (Proverbs 8:22-35).