Viktor Frankl sent 3 years in Auschwitz in Dachau. He told this story. As a doctor he spent a lot of time visiting sick and dying people in the camp. Near the end of the war he and a companion devised a way of escaping. He began to collect his few possessions. Then he took a long look at his patients where they lay on planks of rotten wood on either side of the hut. He came to one man who was very close to death. Viktor Frankl tried to hide from the man the fact that he was escaping but the man was not fooled. In a tired and sad voice, he said to Viktor Frankl “so you too are getting out.” Frankl denied it but the man’s words cut him and accused him. After making his rounds around the camp he came back to the man and was greeted with a look of despair which went right through him. He felt he was betraying the man. Suddenly he decided to take his fate in his own hands. He ran out of the hut and told his friend to leave without him. Viktor Frankl stayed with his patients. At once the unhappy feeling of betrayal left him. He went on to say that even though he did not know what lay ahead in the days before him he felt an inner peace he had not felt before. He also survived the camp.
This Sunday we return to Ordinary Time. In this part of Luke’s Gospel Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He knew that he would meet suffering, rejection, betrayal and ultimately death. Along the way Jesus calls people to discipleship. This involves a commitment where following him takes priority over everything else.
When we make commitments to either people or organizations over a long period of time it is inevitable that we will be tempted to turn back on those commitments and want to escape. This Sunday we hear the challenging words of Jesus that once the hand is laid on the plough there is no going back. One is called to look ahead. What would have happened if Jesus had turned back if he decided to escape when he saw where the path was leading? On this journey he carried the hopes and dreams of humanity. Those hopes and dreams would have evaporated had he not gone ahead.
Can we live a life of remaining faithful even though it might be hard? Can we live a life of not turning back?