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You are not sheep; You are shepherd


A reflection for the 16th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings are: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18 and Mark 6:30-34.

Psalm 23 is the most popular or well-known Psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd.

“The Lord is my Shepherd… there is nothing I shall want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. To restful waters He leads me… He refreshes my soul.”

It’s a beautiful Psalm. You should learn it. It’s a great prayer.

I just came back from Bolivia – from the 5th Missionary Congress of the Americas. It was great because there were missionaries from all over the continent, but also a lot of people who are not missionaries. That’s good because we are all called to be missionaries; to have missionary hearts. We are all called to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

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Rooting for the Little Guy


A reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings are Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and Mark 4:26-34.

It’s Father’s Day today and all I can think of is…. The World Cup!

I love how people decide who they will cheer for during the World Cup. Of course you will likely first cheer for your home country, but if your country didn’t classify (sorry Italy!) then, how do you decide who to cheer for?

If I were to ask you right now, who’s going to win the World Cup, you’d be divided into two groups: The people who go with the usual suspects; the big and powerful soccer nations: Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, France, England and Portugal. We can maybe even include Sweden, Belgium and Uruguay in that group.

On the other side (I’m in this group) we’d have all those who cheer for the little guy. Wouldn’t it be great if Colombia won the World Cup? Or Costa Rica? Peru? How about Nigeria, Croatia or Poland? What about Iceland? How many were cheering for Iceland when they scored on Argentina yesterday or when that Icelandic keeper stopped that penalty shot by Lionel Messi?

I asked one of my nephews who he was going for and he said Japan. I didn’t even know Japan was in the World Cup. Apparently he always cheers for Japan.

And it’s because we like rooting for the little guy, for the underdog. Because we are the little guy. And if the little guy can win the World Cup, then it means that we can also win.

The people listening to Jesus in today’s Gospel were also the little guy. I think they could relate well to what Jesus is telling them about the Kingdom of God. They were poor and oppressed. They were also the people of Israel – not the biggest and mightiest nation. Israel was the smallest nation! And remember, they had been slaves in Egypt and then they were conquered by the Babylonians, then the Assyrians, and were now occupied by the Romans.

But they knew very well the prophecy from Ezekiel, which was today’s first reading. It doesn’t matter who we think is big and powerful, because God decides who’s big and powerful and it’s not what we may think.

But Jesus is also telling them something new. Because the mustard tree is actually not the biggest and mightiest. It is not like the majestic cedars that Ezekiel speaks about or that we hear about in today’s psalm. It’s not even a tree; it’s a shrub. The little mustard seed will one day be a big plant – not the biggest and strongest, but one that the birds love because it has lots of branches and leafs and it gives them lots of shade and shelter for their nests.

God decides what’s big and powerful, what’s important and of value.

Jesus is also telling us something else: The Kingdom of Heaven is not about the end result. The Kingdom of Heaven is about the getting there, about the process. It’s about the journey, about the work. It’s about the growth. This is hard for me because I am very goal-oriented. I like to have a plan and a clear map. But St. Paul tells the Corinthians that we need to walk by faith, not by sight. That means we have to do our part, yes; do what’s necessary, and then let God do the rest.

We need to let go and let God be in control.

It’s sort of like parenting. Parenting is not about having grown up children – that’s the result. Parenting is about the journey, about the growth; about the work. And sometimes we are not really in control.

Last summer we bought some flowers – gladiolas I think, but we probably planted them too late in the season and they never came up. The bunnies and squirrels probably dug them up and ate them. It was too bad, ‘cause they were nice flowers. This year, we were surprised to find these tall leafy plants come up: our gladiolas! We didn’t water them or anything. We thought they were gone. I’ve been told that’s impossible because gladiolas would not survive the winter. But I’m pretty sure it’s them. We didn’t have to do anything; just plant them… God did the rest.

That’s why God is The Father. God is the Father who plants the seed. He sows the seed and then provides for it and protects it so that it can grow.

We just need to get out of the way.

This Sunday, as we celebrate Fathers – this whole month, as we watch way too many soccer games, may we remember that God is The Father. Let’s remember that He decides what’s big and powerful. Let’s remember to get out of the way, to let go and let God be in control. Let’s let Him be Father. Let’s walk by Faith and not by sight.

And maybe Iceland will win the World Cup!

¿Quién es el más fuerte y mejor?


A reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings are Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and Mark 4:26-34.

Hoy celebramos el dia del Padre, pero el tema que nos consume es el Mundial.

Me encanta preguntarle a la gente a quien le va en el Mundial. Obviamente en Panamá todos queremos que Panamá gane, aunque sabemos que no es posible. Pero tenemos esperanza.

Pero después que descalifiquen a Panamá, ¿a quién le vas?

Siempre que pregunto hay dos tipos de respuestas. Hay el grupo de gente que apuestan por los mas fuertes y los mejores – los que de verdad pueden ganar: Brasil, Argentina, España, Francia, Alemania, Inglaterra, Portugal. Quizas hasta podemos incluir a Suecia, Bélgica y Uruguay.

Del otro lado (y yo estoy en ese grupo), tenemos a los que apuestan por el pequeño. ¿No seria excelente que alguien como Colombia gane el Mundial? ¿O Costa Rica? ¿Peru? ¿Qué tal Nigeria, Croacia o Polonia? ¿Qué tal Islandia? ¿Cuántos de ustedes no estaban felices de ver a Islandia meterle gol a Argentina o de ver al portero Islandes pararle el penal a Lionel Messi?

Le pregunté a uno de mis sobrinos a quien le iba y me dijo que a Japón. Yo ni sabía que Japón había clasificado.

Aparentemente él siempre le va a Japón.

Y es porque a todos nos gusta irle al mas pequeño. Porque todos nosotros somos el más pequeño.

Y si el más pequeño puede ganar el Mundial, entonces eso quiere decir que yo también puedo ganar en la vida.

La gente que escuchaba a Jesús en el Evangelio de hoy también eran los más pequeños. Creo que ellos entendían perfectamente lo que Jesús decía acerca del Reino de los Cielos. Ellos eran pobres y oprimidos. Y eran el Pueblo de Israel – no el pueblo más grande y poderoso. Israel era la nación más pequeña. Habían sido esclavos en Egipto y después fueron conquistados por los Babilonios y después los Asirios y ahora por los Romanos.

Pero ellos conocían bien la profecía de Ezequiel de la primera lectura de hoy. No importa quien tu crees es el más grande y poderoso, porque Dios decide quien es el más grande y poderoso. Y no es quien tu crees.

Pero Jesús también les está diciendo algo nuevo, porque el árbol de mostaza no es el árbol más grande ni más fuerte. No es como los majestuosos cedros que describe el profeta Ezequiel. Es más, nisiquiera es un árbol. Es un arbusto. La pequeña semilla de mostaza llegará un día a ser una gran planta – no la más grande y fuerte, pero una que los pájaros aman porque les da mucha protección para sus nidos.

Dios decide qué es grande y poderoso; que es lo que tiene valor.

Jesús también nos está diciendo otra cosa: El Reino de los Cielos no se trata de resultados, sino del camino. Se trata del trabajo y del crecimiento. Esto es dificl para mi porque yo soy muy enfocado a los resultados. Me gusta tener un plan y seguir un mapa claro.
Pero San Pablo les dice hoy a los Corintios que hay que caminar por fe no por vista. Eso quiere decir que tenemos que hacer nuestra parte, si; hacer lo necesario, y dejar que Dios haga el resto.

Tenemos que dejar que Dios esté en control.

Es un poco como ser padres de familia. Ser padre no se trata de tener hijos adultos – ese es el resultado. Ser padre es acerca del camino, del crecimiento, del trabajo.

Y a veces no estamos en control.

El verano pasado compramos unas flores – gladiolas creo, pero probablemenete las sembramos muy tarde y nunca crecieron. Los conejos y las ardillas probablemente las desenterraron y se las comieron. Lástima porque eran unas flores muy bonitas. Este año qué sorpresa nos dimos cuando de la nada, de la tierra salen estas plantas con hojas altas y grandes: ¡las gladiolas! No tuvimos que hacer nada; solo sembrarlas… Dios se encargó del resto.

Es por eso que Dios es EL PADRE. Dios es el Padre que siembra la semilla. El siembra la semilla y después le da lo que necesita y la protege para que crezca. Nosotros solo tenemos que no estorbar.

Este domingo, mientras celebramos a nuestros padres – este mes entero, mientras vemos todos esos partidos de fútbol, recordemos que Dios es EL PADRE. Recordemos que es El el que decide qué es grande y poderoso. Recordemos que tenemos que dejar de estorbar y dejarlo a El que tenga el control. Dejémoslo ser Padre. Caminemos por fe y no por vista.

¡Y quizas Islandia ganará el Mundial!

We Need Jesus


A reflection for the 3rd Sunday, Easter, Year B. The readings are Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4, 1 John 2:1-5a and Luke 24:35-48.

We have three readings and I have three words for you: Three readings and three words: Ignorance, Knowledge and Understanding.

But first, I have a few questions. We’ll start with the bonus question so you have time to think about it: Who, this past week, said, “Oh, we need Jesus”? Think about that and we’ll get back to that later.

Next question: When is the Feast of the Annunciation?

If you said March 25th you are correct. 100 points. But do you know what day was March 25th this year? If you said, Palm Sunday, you are correct again. 200 points. So we didn’t celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation on Palm Sunday. For 500 points, do you know when it was celebrated? If you said last Monday, April 9, correct once again. Now for the big one, 1000 points, on April 9th, Feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis released a document: What is it called? If you said Gaudete et Exsultate, you are correct yet again!

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