John the Baptist, prophet and precursor  
Jean Baptiste “The word of God was addressed to John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness."
(Luke, 3, 2) This word was passed on with the enthusiasm of a prophet and the novelty a precursor.
After having spent many years in the silence of the desert John received this word. As a priest’s son he could have stayed in the Temple of Jerusalem, like his father, and in this holy sanctuary he could have had collected a revelation from God. The Gospels never mentioned John in the Temple. His place is in Judea, and more specifically the desert part of this area. He seems to have been cut off from his family and the sacerdotal cast. His austere way of life, wearing cloths made of camel hair and eating locusts, was in contrast with the luxurious sacerdotal cloths and the gorgeous meat offered in sacrifice. During his predication he would say ” Don’t proclaim that Abraham is your father, because, I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham”.  
John will never use his family link with Jesus. From Luke’s writing about Christ’s childhood (Luke 1), we know that John is the cousin of Jesus, of only six month older. From Galilee to Judea the distance is not that great, among all these thirty years, they certainly had met like when Mary visited Elizabeth, John’s mother. But no hint about their parenthood when John announced the coming of the Messiah of whom ” he is not worthy of undoing the laces of his sandals”. Even John will be confounded when he discovers that the Messiah who is announced is his cousin from Nazareth: “And I did not know him but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me: upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on him the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Yes I saw and bare witness that this is the Chosen Son of God”
(John, 1, 33-34).
One day Jesus will also take his distance from his family and he will say: “Who are my mother and my brothers? Who follows the will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother” Mathew 12, 48).  
John as a prophet is on the hinge of the two Testaments; he had strong words like his great predecessors Ely, Amos and others. His call for conversion was streams of abuse that drove crowds towards the Jordan waters for a baptism of repentance. “Generation of vipers, who have warned you to get away from the wrath to come? And now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees…”
(Luke 3, 7, 9).
However John found also during his predications positive and human words announcing the good news of the Master of the beatitudes. When the crowd asked: “ What do we have to do? John will propose very basic actions, love your neighbour as an accomplishment of the commandments received by Moses: “He that has two coats let him share one to him that has none and who has food does the same” and concerning the finances, “Do not require more than what is fixed.” For the soldiers: “ Don’t be violent and be content with your wages” (Luke 3, 11, 12-14).
Jean Baptiste le précurseur
John is first a precursor in relation to Jesus for which he was “preparing the way, made his path straight, every valley filled and every hill and mountain lowered, tortuous roads made smooth” (Luke 3, 5). All that is a spiritual point of view of course. John fulfilled so well his mission than during the very first year of his predication Jesus choose his first disciples among those prepared by John: Andrew and John who decided to follow him after hearing ”This is the Lamb of God”. And Simon, James who were coming for a retreat close by the river Jordan.  
Precursor and also a model for all the messengers of the Gospel sent in the world, John does not think he is the Messiah. Neither the Light. He is only a witness; witness of the light (see John’s prologue) some body that prepares the way for the coming of the Master. An innovator that can inspire the believers who are invited to “propose the faith”. He knows how to step aside when it is time. The time of the wedding with the Word, source of a perfect joy for the friend of the Spouse. The time when the messenger dares to say: ”He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3, 30)  
John the Baptist, a voice, a cry always necessary in our time of wilderness.
une voix toujours actuel dans nos déserts