As I continue to enter into this new life I am more and more aware of the joys and the pitfalls that await me. Through the years people have often told me not to change. I have to admit I probably haven't fully understood their message but I think I'm getting more and more of the idea. So many new things have entered my life and so many new influences that it is probably more important than ever that I stay grounded. It is probably easy to begin to separate myself from the people but I realize more profoundly all the time that this would be a huge mistake. My success as a shepherd will depend a lot on whether I remember that whether limos or pick up trucks, whether mansions or mobile homes, whether fine robes or running shorts, my primary work is to love and serve all of God's people however I encounter them.
It probably sounds strange to a lot of people but there is a lot of glitz associated with being a bishop and it seems that it would be very easy to get carried away with it all. The bishops that I am meeting inspire me because as I said earlier they seem very down to earth. Many of them are in major cities and play major roles not just in the Church but in their entire communities. Their experiences make the "glitz" that I have experienced seem very minor but they are very real. I suppose Timothy Cardinal Dolan the Cardinal Archbishop of New York is a prime example. He gave me a big bear hug and a slap on the back that almost knocked me down but his warmth and welcome was a great blessing. He is just returned from Rome and playing a major role at the just concluded Synod of Bishops. Here he is fresh from audiences with the Holy Father at the Vatican and he takes the time to warmly welcome me to the College of Bishops.
Cardinal Dolan and so many of the bishops remind me that we must always stay rooted in humble service to the people The Lord has called. I suppose I always turn to the children to help me stay rooted and real. It occurs to me that these men are a good reminder that Jesus Christ has said "let the children come to me". It is truly a profound message that goes much deeper than kindness to the little ones even though that is so important. Christ reminds us that we are all His children and that we need to humbly serve each other in that relationship. The children often cut through any over blown "adult" importance we may grasp to ourselves. I pray that they will always remind me that I'm a heart a kid from Atlanta,Texas who has been greatly blessed by God's kindness and grace.