Today, during Mass, I saw two men, entwined, returning from Communion. The younger was red-headed and bearded, his eyes mere slits. The older (by decades) was taller and had his right arm stretched across the other’s back, their hands grasped tightly at his shoulders. The taller one seemed serious, navigating the way with gentle fortitude. The bearded one was accepting the help and gliding through obstacles with a consistent smile. And so it was that the Gospel message took on new and treasured dimension: technically, the blind man was walking first and his helper simply leading from behind. It was a powerful and inspirational lesson to be able to watch them, to see traces of the Samaritan woman’s experience with Jesus.

Today’s Gospel unwinds Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman who suffered the double stigma of being a woman and being a Samaritan. He approaches her, asks for a favor, and she does not immediately comply. Instead, she questions him with an authority and courage that denies both stigmas. For his part, he responds gently, pragmatically, responding as much to the juncture where they stood as to her curiosities. It becomes a Holy Moment, the open door, that she walks through. And it is not about rules or guidelines but relationship, a transformative relationship that alters everything which seemed familiar. God is present to her, and she dares to embrace that with links between the past and present and then becomes the bridge to the future. Lent can be like that: meeting Christ in the eyes of others and listening carefully, one to the other.

In the turmoil and tumultuous shifts in culture as our whole society remoors, it is splendid to think that such moments are possible. It transcends the diatribes of debate over education, gun control, gender and transgender, homophobia and ageism. It sticks to the one-to-one, the personal connection. Anchors like that are freeing: knowing there IS an anchor can enable us to look beyond the present and consider wider circumstance, create new harbors for others. If we are so tied to the minutiae, entangled in the weeds, we can easily miss those moments that are the connection with something so much greater than self.

As human beings humbled by the glories of science and the gifts of technology, it is easy to imagine our own sense of power, control over life. Genetics and cloning have enabled us to strip away the sense of mystery and miracle in daily life and remain allured solely by the richness of all that has become possible for humans. But here we stand, hearing Jesus speak simply of the sacredness of connections and witness to the gentle acts of human beings caring for one another. Words have power as Jesus and the Samaritan woman demonstrate. But being without words like the men walking with each other also has power.

Power’s many incarnations, many purposes and uses, can be overwhelming and confusing. Having power can bring out the worst in us: knowing the weak spots of another can shape an argument; establishing control can become the sole purpose and justify cruelty; simply not saying anything can allow power to deprive people of freedom and life. This Gospel uses words to highlight power, and actions of its participants to highlight its uses. This Sunday marks a moment of using the power of words for good, for connections and purpose. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that we all have the chance to be entangled with one another for the good of self and others.

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