I posted this awhile ago, but thought it fun to post again. Though my running days are over (Doctors have told me I ran to much and my knees are shot), I still do a lot of fast walking and even have a bike in Jerusalem. But it is good to remember the days I felt like an antelope.

I’ve run a lot around Israel in the last year — along the shore of Galilee, from Nazareth to Sepphoris and back (click hyperlink to see on YouTube video), around the walls of the Old City and then back through the Stations of the Cross, from Jerusalem to Bethany and much more — I love it! But while huffing a puffing along I’ve often wondered if Jesus ever ran. I concluded YES and NO.

Primarily I run to to do the right thing and to stay healthy, and secondarily because I love it — especially the ability to see things up close and to experience places and things and people like you can never do from a car or a bus. At right I am running with my son Jesse’s family and you can see Maria Faustina racing along beside me. I like to do this too!

I don’t think Jesus or others of his time (except children playing and athletes training for the Olympics) ran for reasons of health nor to see places from the ground. They saw everything that way already since they walked everywhere out of necessity.

My suspicion is that people did not run when they could walk and didn’t walk when they could sit down. They tried to conserve their energy. Life was tougher in those days as it was. Nothing was automated. Even getting water was not simply turning a water faucet but walking a mile with a heavy jug on your shoulder. People did not exert energy for the fun or it or to stay healthy or to see the countryside. They walked or ran only when they had to.

Walking and running tend to be unusual in our day to. It take too much energy and we tend to take the path of least resistance. We drive here and there. We take escalators or elevators to avoid the stairs. We park our car as close to the front door of church as we can to avoid walking an extra fifty steps.

I’ll never forget the scene in The Gods Must Be Crazy when the lady in curlers jumped in her car, backed it out the 30 foot driveway, got her mail and drove back up the driveway.

I did a word search in the Bible to see how many times the word RUN or RAN were used in the Gospels. It happens that in the RSV-Catholic Edition the words are used 17 times. All of them are about others running, not Jesus. Mary Magdalen ran to tell the disciples that she had seen the risen Christ; Peter and John ran to the tomb (see picture above to left). The father of the prodigal son ran to greet his wayward son returning home. Some ran to Jesus and some ran to tell others about Jesus.

I think Jesus ran as a boy. All boys run. In our house we have a rule — “No running!” Yeah, right. Tell 12 grandkids not to run in the house! They are full of life — how can they walk? Jesus ran as a boy and had fun playing kick ball or chase through the dusty paths between caves in Nazareth. Mary watched him run and laugh and tumble many times. I have no doubt of this.

But did he run as an adult? When he and his father walked back and for to work every day from Nazareth to Sepphoris — did they walk or run? I ran back and forth but I don’t’ think they did. They were up before the sun and had an hour to walk to work where they probably labored in the heat for 10 hours or more before walking back uphill to Nazareth. I think they conserved their energy and walked, taking the easiest paths.

But there may have been times when he ran too. We are told very little about his actual life and day to day activities. Even John tell us the purpose of his gospel was to convince us to believe in Jesus as our savior, not to tell us what he ate or if he ran to work. He wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (Jn 21:25).

St. Paul mentions running quite a bit. He uses it as a metaphor for living the Christian life. We must run the race, he says. He refers to Olympic runners who run for a leafy laurel which will wither and fall off in a few days. How much more should we run the race to win the crown of eternal life (1 Cor. 9:24; Heb. 12:1). Olympic runners ran stark naked so as not to be tripped up or slowed down by his robes. Paul tells us to cast aside any encumbrance — like sin — that will keep us from winning the race. He is right!

Sometimes I wish the biblical authors had written more — for my curiosity’s sake. I wish Luke had told us more details of the discussion on the road to Emmaus or what Peter and Paul talked about for two weeks alone in Jerusalem. Maybe that is just my own problem since I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity.

When I get to heaven I am going to RUN up to Jesus and after I worship him and thank him for my salvation — I am going to ask him if he ever ran. And since I will want to explore heaven (and I will have new knees), I might as him if he would like to go out for a run and show me around. Well, maybe…


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Pam Urban

    Just read today’s entry. I can’t wait for you to visit St. Francis on March 24.

  2. James McDonald

    I know of one instance in the Bible where Jesus must have been running. In the story of Jesus walking on the water. The Bible says that the disciples got into the boat and started off, while Jesus was going to take the long way around on foot. When the disciple were halfway across the lake, in stormy seas, not only did they see Jesus walking on the water, but it says that he was about to pass them by. He must have really been hoofing it.

  3. Cathy Haase

    Thank you so much for your wonderful presentations of sharing the faith at our parish mission. I could listen to you all day. You have such wonderful insights–even about running. LOL
    Thank Janet (your beautiful wife) for sharing you with all of God’s people, his Church. You are so totally awesome and there is no doubt that God has touched both of you in a very special way. God is so good!
    Have a safe trip home and thanks again.

  4. Chris

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve heard you on Catholic Answers Live many times, but this is the first time I’ve been to your site. I didn’t know you were a runner — I love seeing/reading about your runs through the Holy Land and elsewhere. What a dream come true!
    FYI, I have a blog for Catholic runners you might be interested in: http://www.runningcatholic.com
    and I’ve written about that beautiful painting of Sts. John and Peter here: http://www.runningcatholic.com/2009/12/are-you-john-or-peter.html
    Finally, did you know that Harold Abrahams of “Chariots of Fire” fame was also a Catholic convert? See: http://www.runningcatholic.com/2009/12/best-catholic-running-movie-ever.html
    Thanks for all the great work you do!
    God bless,

  5. Emilio John P. Pagulong

    Good day! Pax! I am very much into running. Learning about you(that you will soon later this afternoon giving a talk about Mary at Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord of SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines) and this article made me love more running. Not only the bibilical significance to it made me realize the deeper meaning of it. Thank you for writing about it. I am looking forward to listen and meet you personally later.
    God Bless.

  6. Pastor Myra Jammer

    There are several places in the Bible that – if you imagined – that when the Pharisees were pursuing Jesus – it appears that he would have been running even though the word “run” is not written in the passage.
    Several places I will enumerate:
    1. When Jesus had healed the blind man in John 9.The Pharisees were after anyone who believed Jesus to be the Messiah. They were going to jail them and punish them and surely punishJesus, but Jesus remain elusive whenever the Pharisees were closing on Him. I will quote the passage below:
    John 10:34-39.
    34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”?’d ? 35If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
    Of course, the Bible does not literally write of Him running to stay fit, but they always used terminology that describing getting away and definitely to save His life when they wanted to stone Him – just like in this chapter of the Book of John. When He would leave areas quickly – it applies He ran away and even hid. I am not sure why they never use the word “run,” but anyone would, if their lives were in jeopardy and death was imminent.
    2. Another place in the Gospel where it appears Jesus had gotten away from the Pharisees is when they declared that Jesus was “demon-possessed.” Again similar scenarios where they were looking to stone Jesus, but He fled (John 8:52-59):
    52At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
    54Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
    57“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
    58“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
    Because He was a miracle working God in the flesh – we can also imagine Jesus disappearing into thin air – through His the supernatural capabilities He has. He did it after the third day of His crucifixion and His followers, “He is alive.”
    But sure, if He ran as a little boy. One must know He ran as a man, but not for the purpose exercise because walking on feet was probably and all-day occurrence if you had no camel.
    3. Another occurrence is when they trying to make Him King by force. In the book of John, the passage reads:
    John 6:14-15
    14After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
    We know that Jesus was constantly pursued by the Pharisees and the issue of running or slipping or – whichever world was chosen to describe how Jesus got away – we have believe there was some running involved.
    But running to keep healthy WAS NOT a reason Jesus would be running, but to save His life. The Word run is however – throughout the entire Bible. It just makes sense to me the “flight or fight” response was present in man then just as experiencing pain when someone drives a nail through your hand.

  7. Pastor Myra Jammer

    Remember, the Bible states that Jesus was subjected to everything human – including walking or “running” in the flesh, yet there was no sin in Him:
    Hebrews 4:14-16
    14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,f Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

  8. Pastor Myra Jammer

    Thank you for this question and the answers that were posted.
    Love you all brothers and sisters,
    Pastor Jammer

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