Its so easy to miss things, and I don’t just mean missing your car keys and looking everywhere for them. I mean not noticing people, or not taking note of what’s happening for them. When there is so much happening in our lives we can miss so much because life is just a rush. I feel like that at times, and know that I need to slow down, and have times when I deliberately take time out.
A good friend of mine who is a professor of medicine told me once that she needed an hour every morning just to blob. ‘I probably have a vacant stare on my face at that time of day, but I need that time in order to be present to my patients.’ One of the things we notice about Jesus is that he notices people that others overlook. I’m sure you can think of people like Zaccheus in the tree, or the leper he cured, or the bent over woman in our reading this Sunday.
He notices their pain, their isolation, their dis-ease, and what’s more he sets out to do something about it. That happened for Jesus in the middle of the Sabbath Service in the Synagogue and Jesus chose to heal a woman afflicted for 18 years there and then. Can you imagine being doubled over looking at the ground and then trying to see where you are going? Can you imagine how exhausting that would be? Can you imagine also how little other people would want to be with such a person? But Jesus took pity on her and straightened out her life so that she could relax and enjoy her life, and build friendships and ‘have a life’ at last!
And Jesus did that despite what other people thought or said, even the leader of the Synagogue who thought all this was disrespectful to God because it happened in worship. Jesus wanted to straighten him out about God as well, to show that God gives priority to bringing people to life and not keeping them locked up in themselves or locked out of community.
The same is true for Jeremiah, in our first reading this Sunday. God also noticed him even though he was just a lad at the time, without much experience, or confidence in himself and said to Jeremiah, I need you to be my spokesperson, to speak a prophetic word into a world that refuses to listen to me.
Jeremiah understandably resisted this call because he felt inadequate and not up to the task, yet God saw in him all the qualities he needed to be a great prophet. Sometimes we need other people in our lives to notice the qualities and gifts we don’t notice in ourselves, and to help us foster those qualities by exercising our gifts.
Jeremiah, like Moses and many others resisted the call of God at the beginning, and at times during their lives, but God wouldn’t let go of them. God held onto them, and God believed in them just as God holds onto us and believes in us far more than the other way around. God in Jesus noticed the bent over woman and straightened out her life, and God noticed Jeremiah and set his life on a path that guided Israel with wisdom, and God also notices us and holds onto us.