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Moments of Remarkable Encounter - Family Reflection Video

Moments of Remarkable Encounter - Family Reflection Video

Strengthening family unity  |  Healing the family

A man on a business trip for about two weeks went out for breakfast. When the waitress came to his table, she asked, "What can I get you?" 

The man paused and said, "I'll tell you what. I'd like the special, but I want my toast burned to a crisp, my bacon like a piece of rubber, my coffee weak, and when you bring me the food, I want you to yell at me." Puzzled, the waitress said, "What are you, crazy?" "No," said the man, "I'm just homesick." 

In classical Greece, a symposium meant a drinking and eating party with music and intellectual conversation. One of Plato's greatest Dialogues is entitled The Symposium or The Banquet. It is a banquet during which guests present their ideas on love, one after the other. 

Throughout the Old Testament, God leads His children to mark and remember Him through feasts and festivals that bring families together and often involve sharing a meal, including the weekly Sabbath and Passover.  

In the New Testament, we find many stories of Jesus sharing meals with His disciples, including His final Passover meal. Jesus could have spent the night before His arrest doing something else. Instead, Jesus spent it talking with and conversing with His disciples over one last dinner. It is remarkable that many of the gospel scenes revolve around the theme of eating or featuring a meal. Several of the post-Resurrection appearances have a meal as their setting. 

As we heard today, a night of futile fishing leaves empty nets and empty hearts. Jesus takes the initiative and meets them in the early morning light. He invites them to eat. “Breakfast is ready," he says.  An abundant table of fish, food, love, warmth, and great joy is ready. Here, fractured relationships are healed and scattered disciples are brought together. 

There is something holy and sacred about eating together, about calling down God's blessing before and after meals. We share food and friendship. Beautiful things happen when families gather around the table. We nourish our bodies so that we can be healthy, do work that would provide for the family, and do God's work. 

A simple yet carefully cooked meal can do wonders. Good food brings people together and fills a physical void and a spiritual longing for companionship. 

Studies show that eating meals together benefits everyone. Children of all ages experience better grades, healthier eating habits, and stronger family bonds. Toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-age children learn and practice vital social skills, including manners, patience, sharing, and inhibitory control, and they also experience boosts in language development. Teenagers who eat together with family exhibit a decreased risk of drug, alcohol, and other high-risk behaviors. In addition, all ages experience mental health benefits of family dinners, including reduced rates of depression and anxiety and increased rates of resilience and self-esteem. A meal together can mend a broken relationship. 

Perhaps if we genuinely want our families, and families in our churches, to say yes to God's invitation and embrace the mission He has for them, we should encourage them to start setting up the family table more often. After all, this is where Jesus met his disciples, and this is where he wants to meet us. Isn’t the Eucharist a family table? Let us try to make all our meals a moment of remarkable encounter with our brothers and sisters and also a special moment when we touch God.

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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.

Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.