Peripheral Vision

"Look straight forward and raise your hand on the side where you see the blinking light in the corner of your eye."  Maybe you have taken a peripheral-vision test at an optometrist's office or at a DMV while renewing your driver's license.  Peripheral vision, like peripheral hearing and other sensory parallels, is the ability to perceive things that occur outside the center of one's focus.

In today's gospel, Jesus tells a story about a shepherd who seems to have good peripheral senses.  He loses one sheep out of a hundred and immediately notices and sets off to look for it.  This story may be so familiar that it is easy to take his actions for granted.  But should we?  It seems that many people looking at such a large group of nearly identical animals would have a difficult time noticing the disappearance of just one.

Yet this is precisely what Jesus does throughout his ministry.  He is always noticing people on the margins of society whom others don't see---whether because of disease, profession, gender, economic status, or past wrongs.  Again and again he is criticized by other religious leaders for moving beyond the people they are focused on and toward others they see as peripheral.  As Jesus' followers, we are called to let him shift our attention to people who need the love and attention of God---even when it takes us beyond the comfort of our normal focus.

Today, as you gather to worship, ask youself;  Who is missing from the picture?  Who is at the periphery of your assembly?  Who is Jesus inviting to this table?  In your church, in your community, in your neighborhood, or in your work, who does Jesus see that you have missed, and what would it look like to seek after them?