Benchwarmers

We see them. We see them every Sunday sitting on the pew during Communion. In fact, most of us have been in their position before. They sit there quietly, while everyone around them get up to partake in receiving the Eucharist. We all pretend we don’t notice them while we excuse ourselves climbing over them or squeezing by them and they pretend that they aren’t there, while feeling segregated and not making eye contact. In fact if someone in your family does not get up with the crowds and stays sitting, your mind starts to wonder why and the next thing you know your judging them. I myself have wondered, and judged but I’ve also been the one sitting there on the pew, avoiding glances and hoping to become invisible. Either way, those feelings don’t feel good. I have news though that I would like to share. Those people sitting on the pew, whether it be one Sunday or for weeks or years, those people don’t deserve our pity. No….They deserve our respect and I’m going to tell you why.

When we see someone, especially someone from our family, elect to stay seated we feel pity or shame for them and that type of thinking is backwards. When a person chooses to stay sitting on the pew instead of receiving Christ we assume that a person did something really bad instead of honoring their decision that they feel they are not worthy enough to receive God “under their roof”. It may be because they sinned big, it may be because they haven’t gone to confession lately and just aren’t feeling right with the Lord at the moment, or maybe they haven’t been back to church in a while. No matter what the reason is, it is theirs and theirs alone and we must see the only thing that matters, their respect for the Eucharist. How easy it would be to get up with everyone else, every week and receive communion instead of feeling the shame and judgement of choosing to stay seated. No one at mass would know. No one knows what’s going on in their heads or what sins they carry. So we must ask ourselves why? Why choose the uncomfortableness? Because they know, because Jesus knows and because He is right there in front of them.

For many people, even many Catholics, receiving the Eucharist has become habitual. We say the prayers, sing the songs, get in line, receive Communion and many people just leave right after, while Jesus is still there on the alter. We forget that Jesus is there. HE’S THERE. He is fully present in every crumb of every wafer and in every drop of wine. Receiving communion becomes something we do instead of something that is done to us. How lucky we are to receive Jesus to become part of us and the prayers directly after communion are some of the most powerful yet many throw that opportunity away as they run out the door. If Jesus was standing on the alter would you seriously walk out the door and leave him? I don’t believe that many would but many do, which leads me to question what do those Catholics believe the Eucharist is? I don’t have the answer to this question and maybe it’s one that many people need to ask themselves. I do know though, that the people sitting on the bench, and they’re there every Sunday, they know what the Eucharist is. They know Jesus is there and sees them in and out. So the next time you squeeze past someone still sitting on the bench try to remember that the choice they are making is commendable and brave and instead of looking on them with pity look to them with respect for they know what the Eucharist truly is. They love Jesus so much as to never disrespect Him, and no amount of guilt, shame, or judging is worth getting up off that bench.

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