Within the narrative of Matthew, John the Baptists helps establish the identity of Jesus – something especially key during the Advent Season. “Whose birth are we preparing for, anyway?” And this is as important a question for us in our day as it was in the life and time of John the Baptist.
Then as now I suspect Jesus would still not fit our messianic expectations, would fail to conform to our popular messianic expectations. Why? Then as now, and in keeping with Gospel tradition, our expectations of Jesus are probably mostly correct but almost certainly incomplete. We should not think ourselves immune from “hometown expectations.” In contrast to what Jesus did and said, many contemporary people harbor false or incomplete expectations about Christ that need correcting.
A friar priest, a friend of mine, holds that if one hasn’t been offended by the gospel that is Jesus, it is likely that one has an incomplete understanding of the gospel. A Jesus who is always comforting and never afflicting is an incomplete Jesus.
Image credit: The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter), c. 1636-40, by Nicholas Poussin, Public Domain