Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor

“John” means bearer of grace and mercy

Rafael de Mosteyrín, priest of the prelature of Opus Dei and chaplain of CEC Torrealba, offers this article about the figure of Saint John the Baptist, who is often called the Precursor, whose feast day is celebrated today, June 24.


When Zechariah, who was the father of Saint John, is asked what he wants his son’s name to be called, he cannot speak – because he had become mute – and he writes on a tablet that his name will be John. At that same moment, he regains the ability to speak. It is a sign that it was exactly the name God wanted. “John” means bearer of grace and mercy. He was Jesus’ cousin, and his task was to announce that the Messiah, our Savior, had arrived. Years ago, I read this letter, which was submitted to a contest that consisted of writing a letter to your favorite saint.

“Dear Saint John the Baptist:

I have been wanting to ask you for a long time: How should I behave to be a good saint like you were? I know that you are Jesus’ cousin, and that you helped Him a lot. You taught people things about the Kingdom of God, and that they had to be good Christians. I would also like to be a good Christian, and I ask you for a lot of help so that I can be one, and reach Heaven. I ask you to help me be brave, to talk about Jesus like you did and not be afraid. Likewise, I am sure that with your help, I will be able to overcome the obstacles that I will have in my life. Thank you for interceding for me,

Greetings, Juan Vázquez”

This is how, years ago, a student from the Tabladilla school in Seville wrote to the saint we celebrate today. So, the author of this letter was only 11 years old. But he had understood the fundamental thing. The only important thing is that we go to Heaven. This is what Saint John the Baptist preached, and this is what John asks of his namesake.

He is usually called the Precursor, which means that he is the one who announces that the Messiah has already arrived, he is the presenter of Jesus. He tells us that the hour of Salvation, of Redemption, has finally arrived. Likewise, he gives us an example with his life. His works demonstrate his virtues such as courage, humility, the ability to suffer hunger, thirst, cold and heat, without being dominated by what is most comfortable. All this makes him preach with great authority, giving an example of what he asks to be done. We, too, must speak this way about Jesus, with this courage. Without being afraid of what others say. He deserved to be, therefore, the one who baptized Jesus. And receive great praise from Him. Perhaps the greatest praise from Jesus, when he said that among those born of women, there is no one greater than Saint John the Baptist. He died for telling the truth, and they cut off his head as revenge, because he had told Herod that he could not have his brother’s wife as a wife.

We, too, must be those who announce Jesus, before our family and our friends. We can remember Saint John the Baptist at every Mass when we hear: This is the Lamb of God. This is what Saint John announced to us. He also said that it is appropriate for Jesus to increase and for him to decrease. It is a task for our life. May Jesus be noticed more and more in us by what we say and what we do. We pray to him to help us love Jesus more and respond generously to him in the face of difficulties.