When the Prophet Samuel approaches Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel from amongst his sons, Jesse doesn’t even bother to bring his youngest child David out. Only after Samuel has rejected each of Jesse’s older, stronger, and supposedly wiser sons, does Jesse admit that he has another younger boy who is out minding the sheep. For Jesse is blind to David’s potential. Yet David goes on to be the greatest King in Israel’s history.
In the Gospel of John we read of Jesus restoring sight to a man blind from birth. The religious leaders, who should know better, cannot accept this miracle as the gift from God that it is. They revile not only the formerly blind man, but also his parents and Jesus. They bring them to trial. They question them to hear the answers they want to hear and see the world not as it truly is, but as they have set it up to be with their rules and regulations. No matter the evidence before them. No matter the truth. In so doing they reveal that indeed they are the ones who are truly blind.
So often in Scripture, the ones who should be able to see most clearly are those who are most blinded by rules, tradition and prejudice. But these stories are not confined to scripture. They play themselves out everyday in institutions, governments and Churches.
The story of the blind man reminds me of Father Roy Bourgeois’ current struggle with the Church. Once Father Roy could see that women are also called to the priesthood he refused to accept the blind obedience demanded of him by the Church. By contrast, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church remains stubbornly stuck in its blindness toward the need for conversation on the role of women.
As I wait this week for the final judgement on Father Roy for his advocacy of the ordination of women, I pray that sight may be restored to his Superior and to the Vatican. Can they not see Truth when it presents itself? Can they not feel the movement of the Spirit? Must they hold trials and arguments (none of which admit women) to decide what the truth must be when it shines brightly before them?
Or like Jesse, will they remain blind to the potential of the women who stand before them?