Lent 4 – Year A
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Samuel may help us into the question of "blindness". Early on he was deafened by his own name and not able to hear beyond it. Here Samuel is stymied by his fear which feigned grief. Later Samuel is blinded by Eliab's physical attributes. After anointing David, the last and least of Jesse's sons, he sets out for Ramah, anticipating a later scene of Rachel's weeping grief for her children.
Blindness is not just personal, but corporate. As we talk of social holiness, so we need to speak of social blindness. As Rick put it on the Midrash Lectionary List, "I have another thought on this. To translate this to modern concepts - I think we could say that the Pharisees may not be blind, but they might have been blinded. If something is in a person's blind spot, they won't see it. If light is too bright, they won't see it. If there are too many distractions, they won't see it. The arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisees blinded them to what Jesus was telling them. Although I am not deaf, if a sound blocks people's voices or if I am in a room with a lot of echo, I am deafened."
Samuel got caught in a cultural appeal for a king, fearing a king out of power, and not able to recognize a next king. In each case his blindness and deafness did not lead to playing a mean pin-ball. Things fall apart and we fall with them. Things are crookedly put together and we are misshapen in crooked's image.
In the end Samuel returns home to Ramah – a high place for idols - that systemically, culturally, blocks a new word and later will be a place of slaughter (always a prime indicator that blindness and deafness is present in high places). Samuel returns home after this scene and the next we hear of him – he died.
Though fondly remembered, Uncle Samuel, is one who wrestled long with not hearing and not seeing.