I always know when I’m in the midst of a Catholic crowd.
The seats in the back are full, and the ones in the front are empty.
For me, sitting in the back of the room is like keeping my faith private, my own, quietly settled. No loud shouts of acclamation or extended arms in praise. It’s “mine.” Or it’s “me and God.” But no one else needs to know or be part of it.
From the time I was a middle-schooler, I’ve watched televangelists on TV, and admired the energy and even euphoria that they inspire in their followers, so much so that their congregations are unafraid to embody what they believe in ways that might look very foreign in some Catholic churches.
The reading from Hebrews captured that for me.
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
— Hebrews 12:22-24A
In the presence of Glory, we should feel compelled to praise God with all our heart, mind, and body.
Sitting in the back of the room has no place in this faith of ours. Sitting in the back of the room is not being humble, but being cautious or private or scared. Or, as our associate pastor put it, selfish.
As leaders, we do not need to be at the head of the table in the seat of glory. But we need to be fully in the room, not on the periphery blending in with the wallpaper.
We should be and are compelled to approach the city of God with humility, recognizing that it is God’s action in us that began this relationship, and we cannot help but respond.
We need to be okay with sharing the highs and lows of our faith journey. We need to be comfortable talking about our prayer life. We need to engage with joy in conversations about Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
So the next time you aim for that back seat, think again, and move forward. Maybe not to the front (Jesus is pretty clear about the consequences there!) But forward. Be in the midst of the faithful and the pilgrim people on their way to city of God in the New Jerusalem.