I have spent all of my Independence Days since high school at camp, celebrating it with a round of "God Bless America" and some Americana decorations around the dining hall. I was stunned by the fireworks going off all around Kansas City! I don't recall the Fourth being such an occasion when I was younger. My brand of patriotism pokes its head up during the Olympics and around election-times, salutes during the National Anthem, and rolls its eyes at Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American". But there are so many of us who feel differently and take great pride in identifying as an American citizen.
Why don't we show this kind of fervor for our heavenly citizenship? Why don't we brag about our Christian heritage the way we brag about our American one? We aren't called to be permanent citizens of this world. We have an invitation to greater city, a greater place where these issues no longer exist.
Independence Day may be just one day in the year, just one holiday to celebrate the United States, but the Church offers us similar holidays and opportunities to celebrate our faith! Advent, Lent, Christmas, and Easter are all special times in the church to celebrate particular gifts from God. Why not share our excitement over Jesus' birthday? Why shouldn't we be overjoyed that He rose again? God and God's Son are infinitely more amazing than where we were lucky enough to be born. We should be proud to be Christians.
1.) This wasn't just a happenstance of where we were born, we have chosen our faith for ourselves. We have taken up our crosses and followed Jesus, just as He asked in Matthew 10:38. Anyone can become Christian and we cannot be turned away. All are welcome here.
2.) We are fighting the good fight, struggling to rise above the temptations of this world as Timothy encourages us to do! It isn't always to make the right choices, to put God above all else. We can take a humble pride in making the best choices for ourselves and others according to God's greatest law: love.
3.) The Kingdom of Heaven is far greater, much more perfect than anything America could ever produce for us or any of its citizens. We have a much more wonderful home to look forward to. It is a treasure, a pearl, that we should value above all else like in the parables found in Matthew 13.
4.) God wants and knows what is best for us; we don't to depend on flawed human guidance to succeed. Just God. "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8.
We love God and work hard to serve God each and every day- why not take pride in that? Now, this doesn't mean we need to brag about our holiness; this is no call to be the pious man in the front of the temple, loudly proclaiming what he has tithed and who he is praying for. But this is an invitation to stand tall and declare our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church. Carry your Rosary, tell people about your favorite saint, invite others to attend church with you.
Catholic and proud. Christian and proud. Faithful and proud.