Before he started his public ministry, Jesus probably worked quietly around his father’s carpenter shop. It’s likely he sat on the front porch after hours, chatting with his mother and pals. When we think of his later life in the Gospels, we imagine Jesus preaching, eating, healing, praying, turning water to wine. For all of the above, our Savior was stationary.

But look closely at the in-between passages. The Gospels show a man almost constantly on the move, mostly walking.

Jesus comes on foot from Nazareth to the Jordan River to be baptized and then immediately starts walking with his followers all over the region — the deserts around the Jordan, the Kidron Valley, the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the hilly cities of the Decapolis. He meets people along the way and acts with great compassion and clarity. Now and then, the Lord walks to deserted places to pray. And of course, his stumbling and bloody passage from the center of Jerusalem to Golgotha worked our very salvation.

What does it mean to us now that our Lord was a walker? Probably that we are to be on the move in many ways.

As individuals, we ought to keep growing closer to the Lord, walking by his side. My personal prayer life has a recurring image: I am hiking at ease with the Lord on a slope above the Sea of Galilee. No talking. Just walking.

As the church of Jesus, we cannot simply guard and preserve, but must travel the countryside, literally and figuratively, accompanying and encountering those on the fringes of society. Walking is the most intimate mode of travel and so is a good symbol for evangelizing.

The word evangelization is based on the Greek for “good news.” It implies that speaking is the heart of the matter. Well and good, but it takes footwork first. It would do our non-Christian neighbors and us a lot of good if we walked beside them quietly and closely for a time before uttering a word.