Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Remember when you joined Weight Watchers way back when? How did that go for you? Remember when you were a student and after the first or second day of that new class you ran to the school office to fill out the slip dropping the class? That was a close one! Then, how about the time you started that Bible study at the parish and after two weeks you disappeared? Who knew there would be actual homework!
If you have never started something and then quit because it was just too difficult or you were scared of what it would ultimately cost, than you are in the minority. I think it is part of the human experience to at some point retreat from that which we find just too much or that which surprised us by the level of difficulty. We were filled with good intentions, but then we decided now was not the time or that we were just incapable of meeting expectations.
Jesus attracted quite a few people in the Gospels. They wanted to be in His presence and follow Him wherever He went. But when He told them what was really entailed in following Him, many “returned to their former way of life.” The cost was just too great.
Stewardship calls for us to become mature disciples that respond to Christ’s call, regardless of the cost. If we are going to take this commitment seriously, we have to work hard on becoming what we are called to in our Baptism. On some days, it might seem easier to drift away or drop out, but this is more important than any class or weight loss program. Those things pass away and we move on, but this journey lasts forever. And better yet, Jesus is willing to tutor us if we let Him.