Going the extra mile this Lent
Journey is defined as “an act of traveling from one place to another.” It comes from the Old French journee “a day’s length, a day’s work or travel” and from the Latin diurnum meaning “day.” Lent, for me, has always been just that, a journey. I am traveling through each of these 40 days of Lent and it is the journey experience that becomes the underpinning of what Lent means to me, what it becomes for me.
As with any journey, I look forward to it with great anticipation. I plan and prepare for it. I always prepare for Lent with prayer. My focused time for prayer is in the early morning. It is a time of quiet and peace. I read the Gospels about Jesus and meditate and reflect on what Jesus said and did. Then I wait. And I listen. Often some very specific word or phrase from the passage impresses me, grabs my attention, and that becomes my prayer. I believe God is guiding me to focus on the deeper meaning of that word or phrase so that I might understand Jesus in a deeper and more significant way. And so the fruit of my prayer becomes the provisions I take on my journey. My prayer time and Scripture reading guides and affects the thoughts, words, decisions, and actions I have throughout each day. I bridge and connect what happens in my morning prayer with the unfolding of my day so that I can encounter Christ in it.
Since I want to encounter Christ during my Lenten journey, I want to have some specific overarching guiding theme or principle that allows me to do this. This typically comes to me in prayer and Scripture and that is exactly what occurred at an early morning Mass on Sunday, Feb. 19. The theme of ‘going the extra mile’ was presented during the Gospel reading of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38-48 and my pastor’s homily. Those words struck a chord in me and stayed with me throughout the Mass and even after I had returned home. It was clear to me that ‘going the extra mile’ would become my guiding principle and spiritual practice for Lent 2017. This is the Lent I believe I am being called to so that I can encounter Christ on the journey.
Questions for reflection
• What does going the extra mile look like?
• What does it mean to go over and beyond what is asked for or required?
• Do I go the extra mile even if it is not asked or required of me?
• Who has gone the extra mile for me in my life?
• Has there ever been a time when I chose not to go the extra mile?
• How did Jesus go the extra mile during his life on Earth?
• How does Jesus go the extra mile for me today?
These are the questions I am asking myself, reflecting upon and responding to in my prayer, Scripture reading, and daily encounters during the season of Lent. As I journey through each of these 40 days of Lent, I pray and ask for the guidance and strength to go the extra mile in prayer, in generosity, in forgiveness, in patience, in mercy — in whatever God is asking of me. May I also re-discover and delve more deeply into all the ways Jesus went the extra mile and goes the extra mile for me.
May my journey into Lent and yours be a journey of encountering Christ.