[COLUMN] On family bonding 

MY heart is filled with gratitude to God as I think of my family gathering and reunion last weekend to celebrate my nephew’s wedding in San Ramon, California. It was another precious moment for us to spend together and to strengthen our bond as a family. Indeed, nothing beats having a fun-filled and heart-warming family get-together.

We all enjoyed the wedding reception. It was well-planned, organized, and joyous, with lots of food, drinks, music, and heart-warming speeches. The bride and groom made sure that everyone had a great time.

Our celebration continued with more family gatherings and meals the following two days at my two younger sisters’ homes in the Bay Area.

Several thoughts came to my mind as I cherished this time with my family.

First is the need for one’s effortless and “just-be-yourself” presence. In a family gathering, one has to enjoy the company of another, withholding judgment or right away getting into serious conversation. One must bring matters into the discussion at the right time and place.

Perhaps, it’s what Jesus appreciated most from visiting Martha and Mary’s home in this Sunday’s Gospel—Mary’s loving and undisturbed presence to Jesus, one that could never be taken away from her.

Second, the importance of planning and organization of an occasion so that it becomes enjoyable. Otherwise, the one hosting would become anxious and worried.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, did Martha lack time and skill of preparation to make Jesus’ visit more delightful for her and Mary?

In any event, hospitality is essential. And as anyone in the hospitality business would say, planning and organization are necessary to make guests feel welcomed and have a wonderful time.

It’s true even in church. We need better planning and organization like more volunteers and training to be a “radically” welcoming parish community.

Third, the importance of finding the right time, place, and approach to engage in a more serious and courageous conversation to strengthen family relationships. Often, the right time and approach are personal and private when there is more room for heart-to-heart and soulful conversation.

And fourth is the necessity of humor in any relationship, especially in marriage. It’s because humor releases tensions, delights the heart, and brings joy and life to the companionship. Agnes Repplier correctly says, “We cannot really love anyone with whom we never laugh.”

So, this summer, take time to enjoy the company of your family and friends, keeping these insights of mine in mind!

Have a great summer!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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