Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Also Read: Mass Readings for 19 February 2023 Mass Reading Reflection for 19 February 2023
Gospel: Matthew 5: 38-48
The second-mile miracle. *
The first mile is mandatory. You have no choice. You have to accompany the occupier Roman citizen with his luggage. When Jesus told his listeners to accompany him for a second mile, his listeners could understand it better. He was not talking about accompanying a friend for a walk or drive; he was talking about carrying the luggage of the occupying Roman citizen an extra mile. As if the first mile itself is not humiliating enough!
Christ is different. Christians are ought to be different. Christians are supposed to go the extra mile. The second mile is a miracle. A lot can happen over the second mile.
Second miles make heroes out of ordinary people. When we read of the greatest of all time in sports, they all invariably practice the sport more than most of their competitors. They sacrifice a lot to stay at the top. The story is the same with legends like Pele, Messi, Michael Tal, Sachin Tendulkar and so on.
Great leaders are marked by their willingness to go the extra mile. Leaders like George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela could obtain the liberation of their respective people because they were ready to go the extra mile. They never had to. Yet they decided to. And many were inspired to join them and willingly walked the extra mile with them.
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta could feed millions of poor because she willingly started walking extra miles with Jesus, and her life inspired many to walk with her extra miles.
It was the great scientists and inventors who travelled extra miles that made human progress possible.
Think of your beloved mothers and fathers; it wasn’t always easy for them. They had to walk many extra miles to make sure that you get food on the table, you get well educated, you get protected, you have decent clothes, you stay healthy, and so on.
In any parish that goes well, you can find those people, who would go the extra mile so that everything is smooth. The story is the same in any organization.
We need to be grateful to them for walking the extra mile and making our homes, institutions, and nations work.
And, we ought to be inspired by them to walk the extra mile to make this world a better place. Start with your family. Do something extra for your parents, spouse, children, or siblings. It could just be cutting short your time outside and returning home early. You may not get an instant appreciation. But you start setting a new trend and a blessed family tradition. Anyone can volunteer to do the dishes or clean the house before they are asked to. Families shall reflect heaven if they have members ready to go the extra mile for one another. Forgiving before being asked to, is another mode of walking the extra mile.
Jesus is the role model for everyone who would like to walk the extra mile. He left heaven for 33 years to walk with us, sinners. He offered himself on the cross so that our sins are forgiven, and we become worthy of His company here on earth and there in heaven. Nobody has walked the extra mile like Jesus. Start walking the extra mile with Jesus. You shall be walking all the way to heaven.
* The second mile. (A short story by an unknown author)
It was almost sunset and Lazarus was on his way home. He was a happy lad 16 years old. He would avoid the highway of the Romans as far as possible. But today he had to cross it to go home. And a Roman soldier appeared from nowhere. Lazarus was ordered to carry his luggage; that was legal. Any Roman soldier or citizen could demand the local subject to carry his luggage for one mile.
He cursed himself for not being careful enough. He wondered, why God is not sending the promised Messiah and liberating them from this ignominy. With the burden on his shoulder, he walked behind the strong soldier. ‘Attempting escape could be suicidal’, he suppressed his inner urge.
He remembered the man he saw earlier that afternoon. He told strange things. He told us to love the enemies and gift the tunic to the one who took away my cloak. Pray for those who persecute you. He was strange!
Ah!, he told me to go two miles with the one who compels me to accompany one mile. He must be crazy! ‘I must get rid of the baggage at the next milestone and run as fast as I can’, he told to himself.
‘The man was charming and had magic in his eyes. He was so convincing. But he was foolish too.’ He told himself.
Suddenly the man in front turned and gestured for him to put the bag on the ground. Lazarus put it on the floor gently. It was the first time he did so; he would rather drop it from his head. The man and his words flashed once again in his mind; why not give it a try?
“If you want, I shall carry it for one more mile.” The Roman could not believe his ears; neither could Lazarus believe he said it. “Okay then, carry it,” said the Roman while helping him lift the bag.
“What is your name?” asked the Roman after a while. Both introduced themselves to each other. By the time they covered the second mile, they shared a lot about themselves and other things in their lives. They were walking side by side unlike in the first mile, and they overlooked that.
The second mile was shorter! They did not feel the distance in the conversation. The Roman helped him to lower the luggage. He opened his bag and took out some dried figs and nuts and offered them to Lazarus and told, “tell me more about the man you met today.” The Roman eagerly listened to the story Lazarus told.
“I wanted to give a try of what was told, ‘Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles’, that is the reason of me offering to carry your luggage for the second mile,” concluded Lazarus. “The second mile is indeed a miracle,” said the Roman, “and Jesus of Nazareth must be a miracle, I must see him one day.”
“The second mile is a pure miracle,” Lazarus muttered to himself as walked home, “now I have a Roman friend!”
It was a dark night, but Lazarus did not care, because he had a light inside!
1. A request to the reader: I have retold a story heard some time back. If anyone knows the author, please share it in the comment section. The original author has to be acknowledged and appreciated for giving us this beautiful story.
2. Courtesy: Go the Second Mile, O S Hawkins, an article published in the website: ‘Faith Gateway’.