The following is a reflection given by Sister Sue Scharfenberger, OSU, at the Jubilee Mass on July 28, 2023, in the Ursuline Motherhouse.

Deuteronomy 6:3-9;  Philippians 4:4-9; John 15:1-17.

I have pondered these readings more times than I can count. On the one hand, they are so familiar. On the other, they are entirely new, bringing forth in me new images and memories, and challenges.

The other, border crossings, women caught in trafficking, guns, and more guns.

Two pieces of these readings seem to go together: Being in the vine and loving the other.

I would like to share with you a reflection I shared with our transformation group a couple of weeks ago. It comes from Joe Grant´s book, Scratchings. He says, “I read that Hindu sage Ramana Maharishi, when asked how we should treat others, blithely replied, ‘There are no others.’” Joe writes: “This led me to reflections on light and life, and vague remembrances of the primal fragments of ancient Heraclitus and his fascination with fire. What if there were but a single source of radiance, and every expression of energy and matter merely a spark of this self-same ever-changing flame?”

Jesus puts it in other terms: I am the vine, and you are the branches. You are in me, and I am in you. Single source. Spark of the self-same ever-changing flame.

And Philippians says it simply: Be happy. Of course!  We are part of the one love. One vine, one flame, one love.

And what would happen in nature and neighborhood to the quality of life if love universal were to usurp all likes, personal, popular, and patriotic?

How might it be if us and we were to encompass them and me?

An idealist, you say? So was Jesus.

As the Father loves me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. And so, Philippians says “Be happy, be joyful because we are nourished by the one love, the one energy.

And when we encounter one another, it will be known that the other is “us and we.”

This week our reflection has taken us to being “clothed with grace,” to revisiting Matthew 25, to encountering the poor, expanding our circle so as to include them in the dialogue, to watching for “Jesus coming through the line.”

We are born of the one flame, the one fire. The particles of our being are connected to the billions of years before our existence.

Some of us are participating in the Resonant Peaceful Cities Project. The Project is in its second year. The first year when a group of committed persons meditated together for the same purpose, the crime rate was drastically reduced. This year we are hoping to double the effects. If enough loving energy is focused on Old Louisville, the percent of violent crime will be reduced by 25%. This is not just wishful thinking. There are scientific studies to prove the reality, because truly we are all connected.

Robert Ellsberg says in a recent article in America magazine, “I believe we are shaped by what we look at and what we love.”  To that, I would add, with whom we journey.

It truly is the one vine. And Matthew’s gospel would remind us that whenever you did one of

these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me, you did it to me. The one vine.

I am somewhat uncomfortable when I hear us asking, “How will we be remembered? What of our legacy?” And I came upon a song that I would like to share with you.

We shall be known by the company we keep
By the ones who circle round to tend these fires
We shall be known by the ones who sow and reap
The seeds of change, alive from deep within the earth
It is time now, it is time now that we thrive
It is time we lead ourselves into the well
It is time now, and what a time to be alive
In this Great Turning we shall learn to lead in love
In this Great Turning we shall learn to lead in love

by Karisha Longaker of MaMuse

As we celebrate and give thanks for these women whose commitment has been example and inspiration for so many, may we acknowledge that it is time now for that encounter that is the all-inclusive we and us.

Indeed, it is time now!

Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly; for the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Great Commandment.

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.
Take to heart these words which I command you today.
Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.
Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:3-9
Joy and Peace.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9
The Vine and the Branches.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
John 15:1-17