Daily Reflection
July 4th, 2000
Eileen Wirth
Journalism Department
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Saint Elizabeth of Portugal - Memorial 
Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12
Psalms 5:4-8
Matthew 8:23-27

It’s always hard for me to separate the sacred from the secular on the Fourth of July.  This holiday always seems almost more like a holy day than many feasts on the church calendar.  I walk around all day thanking God for the many blessings we enjoy as Americans. 

Today’s readings, especially the rather harsh selection from Amos, make a good holiday meditation.  We aren’t the first nation in history to feel that “God shed His grace on thee.”  Indeed many of our founding fathers felt that they were creating a new Israel. 

Amos suggests that having a special relationship with God implies special accountability to a stern taskmaster.  “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”  This is a God the Puritans were a lot more comfortable with than we are.

I don’t want to spend this holiday contemplating our national sins, of which there have been plenty.  We can, however, ask ourselves what we are doing now to make our nation kinder and more just. 

On this day, above all others, I think with enormous gratitude of my immigrant ancestors and the courage it must have taken to leave Germany and Ireland to come to a rather harsh Midwestern frontier.  They probably weren’t very welcome, especially the Irish.  They were poor, illiterate and threatened the prosperous Anglo-Saxon fabric of 19th Century America.  What was the country coming to?

Sound familiar?  Have you heard anything similar recently about any groups of people coming to the U.S.? 

Lest this turn political instead of scriptural, I think the God who demands accountability for how we have used our special blessings would have some rather strong feelings about how we treat today’s strangers in our midst.  What can we do?  More than most people might think.  I salute just a few efforts by groups at Creighton.

Within a mile of the university is a community of Sudanese refugees.  Various colleagues are trying to assist these people adjust to life in the U.S. 

Several miles away in South Omaha,  there’s an Indian-Chicano Health Clinic where Creighton health science students provide services to the indigent.  At our Milton Abrahams Legal Clinic, law students help people who cannot afford legal services. 

I’m certain that every community in the U.S. offers similar opportunities to assist today’s immigrants and the poor.  My own conscience is nagging even as I write this.  In the 1970’s, my husband and I spent countless hours sponsoring Cambodian and Laotian refugees but I haven’t done anything lately – and my children are pretty well grown so I should have time. 

At an absolute minimum we can oppose bigotry and pray for a more just and loving society. 

This was the theme of a speech that never fails to move me – the extemporaneous remarks that Robert Kennedy delivered shortly after learning of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

“So I ask you tonight to return home to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.  We will have difficult times.  It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

“But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.… Let us dedicate ourselves to that and say a prayer for our country and our people.”

Happy Fourth of July! 

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