Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.’
Jesus said to his disciples: Go also the second mile.
Since March 2020 not many of us have been able to travel very far. We have not been able to visit family or friends, even when the need was urgent. We have not been able to experience the sense of physical and spiritual restoration that accompanies times of holiday. We have not been able to travel to favourite buildings, parks and restaurants. Many have had to develop a new way of donning and removing their ‘work identity’ … a way that does not include the usual journey between home and workplace … as ‘going to work’ has become a matter of moving from one room to another. In the context of the last fifteen months the phrase: Go also the second mile has lost its meaning in the literal sense. But, that does not reduce it to the status of being nothing more than a quaint, well-known saying. Remember, all the sayings of Jesus have meaning, and they are meant for us in 2021, and not just for those who first heard them two thousand years ago.
One of the most significant negative side-effects of the pandemic has been increased levels of tiredness. Despite isolation and loneliness, or possibly because of isolation and loneliness, people have worked harder than ever. The desire to get a job done, coupled with a lack of social interaction, has left people feeling drained of energy and excitement. Just the thought of going that second mile has become anathema to many. But, Jesus’ instruction to all who would be his disciples stands firm: Go also the second mile.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ makes demands on every aspect of our lives. We are called to use our obvious talents in God’s service, and we are called to be open to new challenges. God knows that of which we are truly capable and, if we let him, he may well lead us into new territory. Such an adventure should inspire and excite us. But, it also demands our cooperation and our courage. We have all carved out daily routines that suit the resources we know we have. God does not want to abandon that certainty and commitment, but he also does not want us to stop there.
The challenge we are faced with today is about how willing we are to allow God to energize and excite our imaginations. Even the recent routines of living through a pandemic have become boring and matter of fact. Living the life of faith should never be so dull. Living the life of true faith invites us to go that second mile, in order that we might creatively and joyously love and serve in the name of our Lord. Let us pray for the courage and strength to do just that.