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A birthday is naturally a time to celebrate the God-given gift of life — the past year, as well as all the years the Almighty has blessed each of us with.

A birthday also presents each of us with an ideal opportunity to honestly and humbly assess where we are in life. It’s a time to prayerfully discern in what direction is God calling us to go in?

And as it is with each of our individual birthdays, so too it is with our nation’s birthday.

We just celebrated the birthday of the United States. And most people living in the U.S. have much to celebrate. For example, the Bill of Rights which enshrines basic human freedoms of religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly and the liberty to petition the government over grievances are model qualities in a nation.

But in the midst of celebration, we would be wise to also pay attention to the other side of the coin.

Such slogans as “My country right or wrong” and “America love it or leave it” are not patriotic; in truth they hurt the health of the United States. Americans who espouse such feelings ignore the nation’s many critical ills.

If a loved-one has a serious addiction, would it be wise and loving to say my spouse or sister, teenage son or best friend is totally fine and healthy, and thus ignore their addiction? Of course not!

And so likewise it is with one’s country.

Americans who truly love the U.S., and people of every nation who truly love their country, will honestly and maturely identify the ills of the nation and strive to treat those sicknesses with loving life-giving remedies that help all people to be well — in body, mind and soul.

In a nation and world that in so many ways flow against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faithful disciples must be countercultural.

We need to tirelessly urge the U.S. and other nations to create the political, economic, cultural and spiritual conditions where abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the death penalty, racism, poverty, hunger, unsafe drinking water, homelessness, unavailable health care, poor education, unemployment/underemployment, illicit drug use, climate change/global warming, weapons manufacturing, the arms trade, war preparation, waging wars and callousness toward migrants and refugees no longer exist.

And instead, we need to urgently develop national and international policies and social conditions which comprehensively nurture social justice, peace and love for all people — born and unborn — as well as for the common earth-home we all share.

Twelve years ago, I had the great privilege of interviewing Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, the late courageous peace-activist. With penetrating wisdom he said, “We must ask ourselves are we Christians who happen to be Americans, or are we Americans who happen to be Christian?” This is a crucial question. A crucial question for our salvation and for the salvation of our nation. And it is a question which is equally applicable to Christians in every nation.

So, what really matters to you? Having a “patriotism” that is blind to the ills of the nation, or a faith in Christ and the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth?

Do we allow political, economic and cultural beliefs to trump the Good News of Jesus? Or in a turbulent world, is the Gospel the rock-solid foundation upon which you and I stand?


Comments from readers

Oscar Urquiola - 07/22/2019 11:40 AM
Mr Magliano: I agree with your assessment that we must create a more perfect Union as stated by our Founding Fathers. I also agree that it's our responsibility as Christians to strive to be a better person as well as to demand the same from our Leaders. However we also have the duty to cast out evil in our society as well. When politicians are clearly working to undermine our basic principles and foundation in which this great Nation was built on we also have the responsibility to speak out and expose the evil that would destroy our country. We cannot sit ideally by as the dark forces of evil , Socialism and Communism, creep into our Nation and threaten to tear apart the very fabric of our country. No other Nation on the face of the Earth has ever done more to right the wrongs of the past as the United States, whether it was abolishing Slavery,women's suffrage ,Civil Rights, Gay rights, education and freedom. We are yet a young nation and we must strive to be the best not only as Christians but as fellow Americans. Evil must be identified at every turn. The Devil, as you may know, comes in many forms. It comes as a social justice warrior, a benevolent dictator who promises everything to everyone or as a smooth talking cleric. In closing we must not back away from evil as we have done in the past. The world turned a blind eye at the Holocaust as well as Stalin's genocide in the Ukraine. We will not turn away from evil anymore when it threatens our very existence we must confront evil and defeat it. I dare anyone to challenge my Christian belief because I refuse to stay silent in the face of evil. We must confront evil and defeat it before it consumes us. Thank you

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