There is no turning back!
Frank O’Connor in his autobiography, An Only Child, recalls vividly the night he finally decided to become a writer. He had lost his job and had no money. His neighbours regarded him as a mad good-for-nothing. Nevertheless, he gave his first public reading of something he had written. He wrote ‘What mattered was the act of faith, the hope that somehow, somewhere, I would be able to prove that I was neither mad nor a good-for-nothing; because now I realised that whatever it might cost me, there was no turning back.!’ In the Gospel Jesus dealt in somewhat similar fashion with three would-be followers – he said to them, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
Highlighting the need for commitment saying there could be no turning back. If you keep looking back you won’t do a good job. You need dedication and commitment. If you begin such a task, you should give it your all.
All of us have put our hand to some ‘plough’ or other. Young people to their studies…husbands and wives to their marriage…priests to their ministry. In baptism we have put our hands to another plough – the following of Christ as his disciples. If we keep looking back our attention will be divided. So too will be our energy. We won’t be fully committed. To look back suggests that we are having second thoughts, and perhaps doubts and regrets. Maybe other things that we thought we had given up are still tugging at our hearts?
But if we keep looking forward, we will give our undivided attention to the chosen task. We will be completely committed. We will be wholehearted. That will give us great strength. All our resources will be enlisted and harnessed to the task at hand. And so we have an excellent chance of completing the task. Those who are wholehearted find joy in the task, despite hardship. There is no such joy for the half-hearted. So the message is: Don’t turn back; don’t even look back.
In the Gospel we see the best example in Jesus himself. He set his direction towards Jerusalem, even though he knew that rejection, betrayal, and death awaited him there. He would not be deflected from that path. He has given an example to his followers of the kind of dedication that is required. That kind of dedication is a great challenge to all of us. It may be easy at the start. But to persevere, we need the grace of God. That grace will keep us faithful to God and to one another. God will help us stay on the chosen way, to persevere at the chosen task. Then we will know the joy of the dedicated, the joy of being found fit for the Kingdom. Fidelity is not an easy road. Jesus didn’t hide this from his disciples. He urges us to be faithful, has set us an example himself, and promises to help us.
The Lord still calls people today! What does it mean to follow Christ? It means to be called to be a Christian where you are and in your chosen profession. There are many ways of serving Christ and his Gospel. The call is in the first instance to be a Disciple.
‘We are one in the Spirit we are one in the Lord – let us build the city of God!’
Kind wishes and prayers to all – may there be no one lonely among us
There is no turning back!