There's a line in this weekend's Gospel Passage that says if someone forces you to go one mile with him, go two. That's where these few lines have their origin.
The picture attached to this post says there are few traffic jams on the second mile. It's a clever twist but, quite likely, accurately describes that mile we are so often reluctant or hesitant to travel. Chances are it's a mile filled with opportunity.
I spoke about this gospel at Masses this weekend, including a Funeral Mass, but was very conscious at the Vigil Mass of a young parishioner with her two small children. Almost five years ago she lost her husband, the father of her little girls. I thought of her when thinking of the second mile but didn't mention her. I said it to her as she left Mass and we both knew what I was talking about.
She told me at one stage during her husband's illness about the difficult times they had, not least around hospital appointments. They gave it everything they had and her husband's bravery was second to none, matched only be her loyalty, support and love - alongside that of his own family. It was a very difficult time for so many people. One day, she recalled, she was in Galway for a medical appointment. Her husband's walk was seriously restricted and he needed to use a wheelchair to get around. It was not a very good day, in any sense of the word, and she parked the car, opened the door and was struggling to get the wheelchair in place. It was a moment that neither of them could ever have imagined and that nobody wishes for. A low moment in many ways. A young man was walking down the street, mobile to his ear and chatting away freely. Then she heard the man say "I'll call you back". He turned off the phone and came to her and her husband and helped them both. Having done so, he continued on his way but he was not forgotten. Into that dark moment came a bit of hope, an act of kindness and someone who made a difference. He will never know it, it's almost certain, but he was mentioned at the Funeral Mass.
That man stepped onto and into "the second mile". He did what was not expected or demanded and he made a real difference. He touched the pain and uncertainly of strangers, set aside his own concerns and conversation, shared a moment and was ultimately Christ-like. Did he know any of that? Maybe not but it's the truth. The second mile gives us the opportunity to be better people and to encounter people and their journey in way not possible if we stop walking or making the effort at the end of the first mile.
We're heading into a new week, a new mile - the "second mile". Maybe we'll be lucky enough to help another or blessed enough to receive another's kindness. Either way, what's best for us, may well be encountered in that second mile.