Come Follow Me...
We all have our favorite memories of the Fourth of July: picnics, swimming parties, fireworks, sheep running down the highway…
It was the summer of my 16th year, and my extended family had gathered to celebrate. In our farming world, the Fourth of July was always special as it was a day when my dad, uncles and grandpa would take a needed break from working the fields to relax with the family.
As night fell and the younger cousins ran through the fields with sparklers, we set up our chairs in the clearing so we could see the upcoming fireworks meticulously planned by my uncle. The first one burst open with an earsplitting bang, followed by a fountain of shimmering sparks. A second one came soon after in equal glory, lighting up the sky for a brief moment, long enough for us to see a mob of sheep leaping over the fence. Their short little legs were leading them directly to the road where they were heading north.
Sheep are flock animals and strongly gregarious. Their loud bleating could be heard as they traveled past my grandfather’s farm and into the surrounding cornfields. Being a prey species, their primary defense mechanism is to flee from danger.
Trying to herd sheep in the dark was futile, but hilarious. The laughter that echoed through the fields that night (mixed with a few choice words) is forever engrained in my memory.
It is no mistake that Jesus is known as the Good Shepherd, and that we are his sheep. As a congregation we harbor the same strong natural instinct to follow a leader. We may show signs of physical stress when removed from our community - or when the familiar changes.
Archbishop-elect Thompson is preparing to shepherd a new flock in the name of Jesus. The flock he leaves behind is celebrating the leadership he has shared over the past six years, yet is feeling reluctant to see him leave for new pastures.
We must celebrate, despite what is an unwanted change for many of us, as Archbishop-elect Thompson heads north to lead the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. All are welcome to attend a Mass of Thanksgiving held in honor of Archbishop-elect Thompson at 6 p.m. CDT on July 6 at St. Benedict Cathedral, with a light reception to follow in the Woodward Center.
Pray that God watches over our leaders, keeping them faithful to their vocation. Pray that He helps them serve all their sheep, especially the poor and sick, and that he helps them share their vivid sense of God’s presence in the world.
And to everyone a Happy Fourth of July! May your celebrations be full of joy and laughter.