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In July, watch this blockbuster sci-fi and remember the battle!

This is a scene from the 1996 film ''Independence Day.’’ TheOSV News lassification is A-III -- adults -- and the Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (OSV News photo/20th Century Fox)

If you like a good science fiction flick, “Independence Day” is an engaging movie worth viewing again — and thinking about from a faith perspective. Released in 1996, it stars a youthful, charismatic Will Smith and an impressive roster of well-regarded actors. And it has a great soundtrack.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, or who haven’t seen it in a decade or more, here’s a quick refresher: Like global fireworks, skies around the world are ignited and humanity is overshadowed as a fleet of extraterrestrial crafts emerge from a mothership suspended over the White House. They travel to major city capitals all over the world, and there hover quietly. There is no immediate action, but their silence feels more menacing than peaceful.

Studying the data, a technician realizes he’s seeing a countdown, and that the entire world is in danger of an imminent and coordinated attack. He is too late getting the message out and we watch as each spacecraft fires great beams of light, and the great cities of planet Earth — New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and more — instantly fall, becoming theaters of death and human powerlessness in the face of an inescapable chaos. For persons of faith, it is easy to imagine the fiery end to St. Peter’s Basilica and the churches of Rome, all the glories of human artwork, engineering and faith to which the great city gives witness, wiped out in an instant. In Jerusalem, the very streets upon which Jesus walked, preached, healed and bled would be similarly vanquished and, over time, erased from human memory.

The otherworldly visitors sought the total annihilation of humanity, and they would very nearly succeed, save for an unlikely group of individuals — people of different backgrounds, skill sets, gifts and faults who are brought together through pure circumstance and manage to save the day.

Human race: 1 — Aliens from another world: 0

Sometime this month, either before or after the actual Fourth of July, try to watch “Independence Day” once more, but this time through the lens of faith, considering the story of mysterious annihilation from unseen forces against the even greater mystery of our human ability to hope and believe, virtues that court real power, especially within this supernatural and sacramental church, to assist in the constant battle between light and darkness in play all around us, all the time.

Bring to the viewing all that you know of sin and goodness, prayer and humanity, dread and courage. And remember that, no matter how finite the best efforts of humanity can seem, or how readily the things we value can crumble — including the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and commemorate with each new Independence Day — God desperately wants us to be united with him for all eternity.

But God’s desire requires our assent, our fiat, our longing matched to his. That is what will ensure the final score showing: Human Salvation: 1 — Satan: 0.

God wants us to know the joy and the freedom that his beloved son won for us by his self-emptying. Never forget that Jesus took on our human condition in a complete way, but without sin. He lived the struggles we face each day, and we are his body, the church, an unlucky group of uniquely gifted and faulty individuals brought together by grace.

Like intruders awaiting only the opportunity to obliterate all that is good, true, innocent or beautiful, the minions of hell hover and prowl, doing all they can to wreak spiritual and material havoc over our world in an attempt to settle the old score.

So, seek the Lord while he may be found. Call on God to help and to save. And appreciate the liberties that come from living in his truth!

Bishop Robert P. Reed is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, pastor of St. Patrick and Sacred Heart parishes in Watertown, Massachusetts, and president of the CatholicTV Network. He is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications.

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