Read John 5:1-15

“So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:16–17 NLT)

One of my favorite television series…EVER…is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starring Sarah Michelle Prinze (née Gellar), David Boreanaz, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter, Anthony Stewart Head, Seth Green, Eliza Dushku and a host of other folks. Created by Joss Whedon, the show’s protagonist, Buffy Summers, actually had her own movie before the series was created. In that, she was played by Kristy Swanson, and it is there that she was first introduced to the fact that she has been chosen to be a vampire slayer, of which there is only one per generation.

In the film, Buffy is pitted against an ancient vampire who has been killing slayers throughout the centuries. Not-such-a-spoiler alert, Buffy wins; however, not before burning down her school gym and getting expelled from her high school. That is where the series picks up, as Buffy moves to Sunnydale, CA, and tries to pick up the pieces of her life. As she finds out, there’s a watcher named Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Steward Head) who is looking forward to her arrival, as Sunnydale turns out to be the Hellmouth, a portal to the gates of hell, and Buffy’s slayer skills are going to come in handy.

In one episode, Cordelia Chase’s (played by Charisma Carpenter) boyfriend was attacked by an invisible assailant with a baseball bat and ends up hospitalized. Buffy, investigating the scene of the crime, notices that scrawled in spray paint across the row of lockers the boy was dressing at, were the words, “LOOK”.

Later, while in the music room, Buffy hear’s a flute being played and yet no one was seemingly there. Was this a potential haunting? Was this some angry poltergeist exacting revenge for his/her own ill fate? Looking over a list of missing kids at the school, put together by Willow Rosenberg (played by Alyson Hannigan), Buffy begins to believe the ghost must be that of Marcie…except that Marcie is not dead and cannot be a ghost; how could it be possible that Marcie was invisible, unable to be seen? After another attempted murder of a teacher, Buffy discovers one more spray painted word: LISTEN.

It is then that we enter a flashback and discover that Marcie was not a popular kid. She was constantly overlooked by everyone, even her teachers. Nobody noticed her and, as a result, she ended up literally becoming invisible. Even then, nobody remembered her or even realized she was missing. She just ceased to be in the consciousness of the school.
Thus, this invisible girl was able to get revenge against all who ignored her in the past. They would no longer be able to overlook her or ignore her now, certainly not as she attacks and attempts to kill them and they frantically try to defend themselves against someone they cannot see. Their apathy, their lack of care for Marcie while she was visible, and their lack of even acknowledging that she was missing, was costing them their very lives.

Obviously, this sort of thing does not happen in real life. Well, let me correct that, this sort of thing happens all the time. People are often ignored, overlooked, and taken for granted. There are certain people that we simply don’t notice or even acknowledge they exist. What isn’t real is that they become physically invisible. But the metaphor is a powerful one because, when one is feeling isolated, alone, and invisible, they do sink further into their “invisibility” and slip between the cracks.
How many people have become reclusive or, worse yet, suicidal, simply because they were never noticed, valued or loved by others. Of course, we know that most people have at least some who love them; still, when you are being ignored by peers, friends, teachers, and other instrumental people in your life, that rejection can have profound consequences.

Just like Marcie, the man in our Scripture today was invisible to those around him. There were plenty of people around him that could help him get into the pool…but day after day, month after month, year after year, he sat poolside unable to get into the pool himself and no one else offered to help him. This invisible man was discovered by Jesus, just as a compassionate Buffy Summers discovered Marcie, and Jesus gave him the chance to not only be whole…but to be seen again.

Of course, the religious leaders did not see the miracle, but only saw a law being broken; however, Jesus’ miracle exposes them to the person they were passing by for that law. What’s more, Jesus’ response to them put them back in their place, “My Father is always working and so am I.” Wow. They could not argue against him, but the implications of referring to God as his Father and his disregard of the Law, put Jesus at odds with the Jewish leadership.

This, my friends, is what God expects of us. We are NEVER to overlook anyone…we are never to render anyone invisible because no one is invisible to God. God loves us all and wants us to follow suit. With that said, seeing people that society would rather we NOT SEE, will put us at odds with society. Standing up for the invisible people of the world will cause people to reject us and try to stop us at our holy work.
Remember friends, we are not here to be liked by the world or to uphold the status quo of society, we are called by Christ to follow him, and to make disciples of all people, everywhere, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). That means that, if we are to follow Jesus, NOBODY should be overlooked. Nobody should be invisible. Therefore, let us be an observant people, who not only notice the unnoticed, but include them with all of God’s love and grace.

“There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” ― Arundhati Roy

Lord, let me not be among the people who deliberately silence or selectively ignore others in order to fit in. Give me, rather, have the courage to LOOK at and LISTEN to people, and help me to include them in your love, grace, and kingdom. Amen.

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