Thursday, March 23, 2017

USA Defeats Puerto Rico at World Baseball Classic

After much hype and anticipation, the championship game at the World Baseball Classic was just played. Many expected team Puerto Rico to come out on top. However, the opposite happened. Team USA obliterated the Puerto Rico team 8 to 0.

The start pitcher Marcus Stroman for team USA, a Puerto Rican hybrid himself, held back the Puerto Rican team. They just could not get any hit against him. Retired MLB manager Jim Leyland led the USA team to victory stating, “We’re trying to make America great again."  Puerto Rican starter, Seth Lugo did not have any great pitches.  The Americans kept scoring against him.  Moreover, the Puerto Rican team looked nervous, making mistakes such as Lindor throwing to first instead of home where he could have prevented a score.

The game was not without controversy.  Marcus Stroman was criticized for not playing for team Puerto Rico. His mother is Puerto Rican. During the game, Stroman seemed to have shouted obscenities against the Puerto Rican team which prompted former Blue Jays player and a Puerto Rican himself, Alex Rios to tweet this:

Ian Kinsler also made some comments about the Dominican and Puerto Rican teams which were seen as racist. He said, “I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game, as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican [Republic] plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”

Moreover, despite winning a trophy, the USA's victory was pretty much ignored. In a twist of fate, Puerto Rico received their team with a parade as if they were the champions.

Puerto Rican fans clearly are upset with Stroman.  They are still behind their team and say that team Puerto Rico united the island which is suffering economic problems due to bad government. As to why their team failed to win, there has been no comment. The team did stick around and congratulated team USA on their win. When questioned as to how the underdog team USA got the motivation to win, Adam Jones said that he heard that Puerto Rico was making plans for a parade and that this gave team USA more drive to win the World Baseball Classic. If true, then it seems Puerto Rico counted their chickens before they hatched.

In any event, America and Puerto Rico still won. Puerto Ricans are Americans and Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  We should all celebrate both teams!  They made this WBC one of the best ever!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

USA Eliminates Japan Will Face Puerto Rico for Championship

In a rematch from 2009, team USA faced Japan.  Japan has been undefeated so far.  On a rainy night, team USA defeated Japan eliminating the foreign team.  In a game expected to be exciting, there was much action. Both teams are not familiar with the techniques and skills of one another. This made for an interesting game.  At first, Japan was in the lead. However, sloppy ball play allowed for the American team to tie the game when Matsuda could not hold the ball and allowed for Crawford to score.

Team USA will now face Team Puerto Rico which is also undefeated and has been on fire.  Many expect Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic; however, the Americans have shown they are capable of winning as an underdog.  Either way, a win will be an American win because the island of Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States of America and may become the 51st state some day.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Puerto Rico Eliminates Netherlands: Moves To Championship!

In a nail biting elimination game, Puerto Rico has once again come out as victorious. Puerto Rico was facing the Netherlands.

At the beginning, the game was strange. Netherland's Profar would get a single and then get taken out after he was facing the dugout and not paying attention. Molina took him out easily. Then another batter ran to first on ball 3 as Puerto Rican pitcher Hector Santiago signaled with three fingers and eventually taking the batter out. The Netherlands then had a lead with 2 in the beginning but Puerto Rico would come back to tie it with a homer by Correa and then a hit by Rivera making it 3-2 giving Puerto Rico the lead. Javy Baez would steal the show with an amazing slide. He appeared to be out and was called out.

However, he showed for a review and got it. After a review, one can see Javy move like Neo in the Matrix avoiding the tag. He seemed to have defied the laws of physics! Later on, a brawl seemed imminent when Puerto Rican pitcher Diaz threw a pitch too close to Balentien's head of the Netherlands. Balentien made a gesture not to hit him in the head in an attempt to intimidate Diaz. However, Diaz was unmoved. Javy Baez was showing making gestures mocking and dismissing the Netherlands' team.

Diaz would then strike out Balentien and the next batter leaving them dismayed and in shock. The game went to the 11th inning and special rules came into place. Each team would be allowed to start with two runners on base. The Netherlands started the inning, but failed to make any runs. A run would determine the winner. It was then the Puerto Ricans' turn to bat and they did it! The scoring run came in and Puerto Rico defeated the Netherlands moving on to the championship game which will be held on Wednesday against either Japan or the United States. Team Puerto Rico made an amazing gesture. The entire team knelt in a circular manner and prayed. It is no wonder why this team has succeeded in the way they have. God has blessed them!

More Twitter reactions:


Sunday, March 19, 2017

3rd Sunday of Lent: Thirsty For God

Today’s reading for the Third Sunday of Lent have one main thing in common: Water.
The first reading comes from Exodus. In it, we read about Moses’ struggle with the stubborn Hebrews who whined about being taken out of captivity. Go figure right?  They complain to Moses about being brought out into the desert to die of thirst.
The Hebrews actually preferred being in Egypt as slaves than in the desert.  Here we see a lack of faith. Despite all the wonders God performed, they still doubted and whined. Think about this for a minute.  They saw God send down plagues upon Egypt, one of them, which transformed the waters to blood (Exodus 7:14-10:29). However, they still believed that they were taken to the desert to die of thirst.  How can they even think this after seeing how God had complete control over the molecules and atoms that make up water?

Again, the issue here is lack of faith. Humanity has not changed much since this time.  We still
whine and complain. When God does not answer our prayers or answers them differently, we get upset. Some of us even lose faith altogether, despite witnessing God work in our lives in the past. We must remember that God answers prayers in he way we need them answered, not how we wanted them answered.

Moses himself becomes a bit stressed out and asks God for help, fearing that the people will stone him.
God calmly tells him to go with his staff and strike a rock and water will flow from it. Gods asks Moses to do this to show that He can do anything. Usually water comes from rain, but God wanted Moses to tap on a rock for it. I see this as an innuendo of sorts. The Hebrews then and us today are “hard-headed.” God must sometimes tap on our rocky heads to get water to flow, so to speak.

This first reading should remind us of faith and how delicate it is. We can be the most zealous Christians on Earth jumping around shouting alleluia like the charismatics, but it takes just one disappointment in life to bring all that down. In an instant we can lose faith in God. This is dangerous, but happens a lot. Moreover, the first reading can be connected to our own spiritual journey during Lent and the rest of the year. We are “in the desert” trusting God. The desert is not a comfortable place.  In fact, it is so uncomfortable that even being a slave in Egypt sounds better.The desert is a common theme in the Sacred Scriptures.  It is not only a real place on Earth, but a symbol of hardship and loneliness.  It is usually there where we encounter God the most.  

The Psalm response is linked to the first reading. It comes from Psalm 95 and mentions the incident of the lack of trust the Hebrews had at Meribah and Massah. The psalm calls God the “rock of our salvation.”  This is a connection to the rock Moses tapped for water. Water is the “salvation” of a thirty individual.

It is no surprise that to each refrain we respond, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” This “hardening” is another connection to the rock in the desert and why I wrote a few paragraphs above that it is an innuendo. We often become “hard-headed” and harden our hearts as well.  The psalm reminds us that God is the one who made us and we should trust in Him. We must not repeat what our ancestors did where they did not trust Him and tested Him. The psalm ends in this manner.

The second reading speaks to us about faith. Again, it is all connected with the previous readings.  St. Paul reminds us that faith is what connects us with God. God gives grace to all freely, but we must respond with faith to it otherwise we will miss the grace.

This faith must then be put into practice for it to be truly valid because we must love God and have faith in Him, not just because of commands, but because we choose it (James 2:14-26).  When we freely choose something instead of being forced to do something, it becomes more valuable and authentic. The reading continues speaking about hope that doesn’t disappoint. No matter what hardships we face, God is still there.  Again, we must not repeat the mistakes of our ancestors in the desert who knew God was there but still doubted.

Lastly, the Gospel tells us about the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus. The Samaritans are a group of people who the Jews did not like. In about 700 BC, the Assyrians came to Israel and took over the north. They brought strangers to that area who would be called “Samaritans” later on. These people were Pagans, but as they lived among the Jews in the land, they adopted some of their ideas and incorporated them into their own religion. Nevertheless, the Jews saw them as a pariah.

Jesus comes to a town called “Sychar.” He is tired and sits down. Imagine that?  God is tired. This shows the humanity of Christ.

I digress..

As Jesus rests, a woman comes by and He asks her for a drink.  The woman is shocked because He asks her for a drink.  She does this because of the tension between the Jews and her people. Moreover, women at the time were not seen as full persons in those times due to culture. Jesus is showing He is a “feminist” per se. Moreover, Jesus then responds to her that if she knew who was asking her for water she would have been given the “living water” which is God’s grace that comes from the Holy Spirit.

He continues telling her that the water He asks of her does not quench thirst but that the water He
gives will. Here He is saying that only God can satisfy us fully. Things of this world, including water, satiate. They do not satisfy us forever. The woman becomes interested and asks Jesus for this water.  Jesus then shows her that He knows her life by revealing that she had five husbands. The rest of the Gospel (if the longer version is read) continues with Jesus speaking about true religion in spirit and truth that comes from what He gives. The disciples also make an appearance and show their disapproval of the woman and Jesus communicating.

The Gospel is very long, but has deep and simple themes to reflect on.  First let us focus on faith. Here we see that it is God who comes to us, not the other way around. Jesus comes to the woman and asks for water. This is His way of saying that we have to respond back to God’s grace with our faith and why He says, “I thirst” on the cross (John 19:28). He approaches us and asks for us to give Him water (our faith response).

Second, the woman belonged to a group of people that the Jews did not like.  Christ shows us that we must go to everyone with the Good News, not only our own. We must not be greedy and keep the truth for ourselves, but must share it with the “Samaritans” of the world today: non-believers, lukewarm believers, those who believe in other faith traditions, etc. We must not judge those who are not in our Catholic Church – the Mystical Body of Christ. Instead, we must approach them, be friends with them and reach out to them. We must also listen to them and learn from them just like Jesus listened to the woman.

The Gospel reminds us of “water.” Water is the ultimate source of physical life.  Without water, there would be no life on this planet. Water is the engine of life. Jesus reminds us that He has the living water that gives us meaning and true life unlike the common H2o on Earth that we need to live on, physically speaking.  This is why astronomers and astrophysicists look for water on exoplanets.  Recently, seven planets were discovered in the TRAPPIST 1 system.  Water may exist on them which may indicate that life possibly exists there. 

Ironically, in a desert that thing that is lacking the most and is the most desirable is water. When our
lives become dry, painful under the heat; the discomforts of the desert of life hit us hard, it is Christ who gives us the living water who keeps us going. In this time of Lent, we are walking in the desert with Christ. We are tempted to break our fast just like Jesus was tempted by Satan.

We naturally suffer spiritual dryness when we feel God is not there like the Hebrews who felt they were tricked into going to the desert to die. Our response is to trust in God even in bad times. We must not become hard headed and doubt God like those in Meribah and Massah. We know God is there. We have encountered Him in our lives. Our daily struggles should not push us to think God is not there in our lives. Faith is key. We must ask ourselves during Lent as we walk in the deserts of life: “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

The answer is YES!  He is there with a nice clean cup of fresh living water to quench our thirst.  We all thirst for God, even atheists.  Let us seek Christ and be quenched.  

Please help this ministry by donating via PayPal or  Your gift will help me continue this work and expand it.

You can also help by purchasing my books. My latest book, "Introduction to the Catholic Church" will truly benefit Catholics and others who are curious of the Catholic faith. You can purchase it in paperback for $12 or Kindle Ebook for $9.99.

Here are some reflections from holy writers:

It is pertinent to the image of the reality that this woman, who bore the type of the church, comes from strangers, for the church was to come from the Gentiles, an alien from the race of the Jews. In that woman, then, let us hear ourselves, and in her acknowledge ourselves and in her give thanks to God for ourselves.
— St. Augustine
(354 - 430)

Source: “Tractates on the Gospel of John, 15.10,” quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 146–147.

And in that day it says, “Living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem.” This is that spiritual, sweet, life-giving and saving drink of the teaching of Christ. He speaks of it in the Gospel according to John, when instructing the Samaritan woman.
What was this drink, then, that came forth from Jerusalem? For it was there that its gospel went forth and its heralds filled the world. This is what is meant by the words “The living water shall go forth to the first sea and the last sea,” by which is meant the bounds of the whole world. That which is toward the eastern ocean is called “the first sea,” that toward the west is meant by “the last sea,” which, indeed, the living water of the saving gospel teaching has filled. He also taught about this when he said, “Whosoever shall drink of the water, which I shall give him, shall never thirst.”
— St. Eusebius of Caesarea
(260 - 340)

Source: “Proof of the Gospel, 6.18.48-49,” quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 146–147.

Jesus calls the quickening gift of the Spirit “living water” because mere human nature is parched to its very roots, now rendered dry and barren of all virtue by the crimes of the devil. But now human nature runs back to its pristine beauty, and drinking in that which is life-giving, it is made beautiful with a variety of good things and, budding into a virtuous life, it sends out healthy shoots of love toward God.
— St. Cyril of Alexandria
(375 - 444)

Source: “Commentary on the Gospel of John, 2.4,” quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 146–147.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Puerto Rico Eliminated Venezuela & USA Eliminates Dominican Republic

Puerto Rico is unstoppable. The team has been undefeated and has just eliminated Venezuela from the World Baseball Classic. Kenny Vargas hit a home run that scored two runs and Angel Pagan contributed with a double and two single hits. Odor of the Venezuelan team would later hit a two run homer run in the sixht, but Puerto Rico continued to score with the help of Correa, Perez and Rivera who were constantly on base and showed great running skills. In the end, Puerto Rico eliminated Venezuela 13 to 2.

 They are now heading to the Semi-Finals to face the Netherlands on Monday. The winner will advance to the championship game. Moreover, later that night, there was a rematch between the USA and the Dominican Republic. It was an elimination game as well. The USA was facing elimination along with the Dominican Republic. In the first innings, the Dominicans scored two runs. They seemed to have had the momentum. Manny Machado and Robinson Cano brought the runs in by capitalizing on errors by Brandon Crawford, the shortstop. However, that all changed.

Giancarlo Stanton, winner of the 2016 Home Run Derby singled. Johnathan Lucroy then gave a hit that put runners at the corners with no outs. Then Christian Yelich hit a double which tied the game 2 to 2. In the fourth inning, something amazing happened. Stanton came up and hit a pitch thrown by Ervin Santana of the Dominican team. The hit was probably heard around the world. It was a monster home run measured as traveling 117.3 mph. The crowds were amazed. Stanton's homer brought team USA to 4 and left the Dominicans at 2. He stands at 6'6'' and is very muscular. His hit is the fourth hearded hit home run, according to statistics.

 However, Stanton's homer was not the only amazing event. Adam Jones of the Orioles made an amazing catch. His teammate on the Orioles hit a homer run. The ball was over the wall but Jone leaped in the air and caught it robbing Machado of the homer. Machado was in awe himself and tipped his cap to his teammate. However, after this, Robinson Cano hit a home run bringing the Dominicans within one run. Team USA would not give up and would add on more runs making it 6 to 3 after double by Andrew McCutchen which brought in two runs. The Dominicans would not recover from this and would lose the game, ending their run. They were the defending champions of the World Baseball Classic. The United States will now face Japan in another rematch from 2009. Whoever wins from there will advance to the championship game and will face either Puerto Rico or Japan.

On social media,some interesting takes on the game were posted. I had some fun myself using gifs:


Puerto Rico Defeats United States & Advances in WBC

Team Puerto Rico has done it again! They have reached the semi-finals after defeating the birthplace of the game of baseball, the United States. In a nerve-wracking game, Puerto Rico came in to force at the onset. They scored after Javy Baez scored in some runs at the plate and USA team member Nolan Arenado made some errors. Arenado is half Puerto Rican himself. For some time, Puerto Rico led by three runs.

However, a homerun by Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles brought the game within one run. This would later change after Puerto Rico bounced back and won the game 6 to 5. This game was a must win for the USA team. They are one game away from being eliminated. They will face the Dominican Republic on Saturday. The winner there will decide who will advance. Japan and the Netherlands already clinched a spot.

So far, Puerto Rico has been undefeated with five consecutive wins. They are a fan favorite and will possibly win the World Baseball Classic. Some are crediting this "luck" to the blonde hair the Puerto Rican players have been sporting (no pun intended). This has led to the hashtag #TeamRubio (Rubio means blond in Spanish) to trend on social media. Many on the island of Puerto Rico have bleached their hair blonde in order to support their national team.


Friday, March 17, 2017

EMT Worker Yadira Arroyo Killed

New York City is in mourning today after the city lost one of its heroes. EMT Yadira Arroyo, a 14 year Puerto Rican veteran from stationhouse 26 was doing what she did every day, attend to others. While in her ambulance responding to a call, a man hailed the ambulance because another man, Jose Gonzalez had stolen his backpack and jump on the rear of the ambulance using it as a getaway. Arroyo stopped the ambulance to investigate and was attacked by Jose Gonzalez, 25.

He commandeered the ambulance and was driving off. Arroyo tried to retake the vehicle, but Gonzalez reversed it hitting her with the open door and then ran over her before crashing into three parked cars. Immediately, bystanders rushed to apprehend Gonzalez, including an MTA police officer. Arroyo's partner in the ambulance was distraught and even kicked and stomped the perpetrator as he lay on the street. She was taken to the hospital for shock and is in a lot of emotional distress.

Jose Gonzalez was arraigned in the Bronx Criminal Court and was met with hundreds of EMT workers who shouted at him and his lawyer. In a twist of fate, Gonzalez lived just a block away from Arroyo in a shelter. He has a long rap sheet and is said to be mentally unstable and a member of the Bloods gang. He even has two open cases for assaulting a security guard and a police officer.

Arroyo leaves behind five children ages 7 to 24 who are suffering the loss of their dear mother. All but one were able to say goodbye to her at the hospital before she expired. She was remembered in today's St. Patrick's day parade. The FDNY held a banner in her honor. Video of the attack was filmed by "SwavyJayBeats" who made his account private now ( Please pray for the repose of the soul of Yadira Arroyo. She is a hero in every respect of the word. Arroyo saved lives as an EMT and prevented this deranged man from possibly hurting or killing others with the ambulance. Eternal rest grant to her Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. May Yadira Arroyo, rest in peace!



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