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Easter 5 C ~ "Empty Chairs" ~ Rev. Jim Schmitmeyer

Empty chairs.

No one likes an empty chair.

Family meals.

Family reunions.

Family of faith.

No one likes an empty chair.

Today’s gospel reading points us to an empty chair,

the one emptied by Judas.

The first sentence picks up right at the place

that Judas ducks out.

At this moment, everyone is staring

at the empty place at the table.

No one likes an empty chair

because it mirrors an emptiness in the soul.

Sometimes, the hollow emptiness

echoes the thunder of rage

or the flash of fear

or the distant rumble of rejection.

Other times, an empty chair is the tragic results

of a car accident or a fatal illness.

Then, again, the reason might be due to the fact

that someone you love lives far away,

or can’t get off work

or afford the time and expense of travel.

Regardless of the reason,

an empty chair saddens the spirit at a family gathering.

So, too, at the gathering of God’s family here at Mass.

So, let’s go back to the gospel for just a minute

and take a closer look at that empty place at the table of the Lord.

In one sense, Judas did us all a favor.

His empty chair is telling us that

the absence of love

is the deepest absence of all.

That absence aches to be filled with love.

When it comes to love,

we all struggle to grasp the concept

that Someone would give their life for us.

Out of love, pure love.

Today, as we take our place at the Lord’s table,

we beg for the grace

to turn our gaze away from the empty chairs in our life,

to turn our eyes away from the emptiness in our souls,

and peer into the eyes of the One who carved your name

in the palm of his hand;

the One who gives this pledge and assurance:

“In my kingdom, you will eat and drink at my table…

you will never experience hunger or thirst again.”

Amen. Amen, Lord. Let it be as you say.

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