I belong to a big family. I say a big family because I have four siblings, my mother and father, and my grandparents. We all live under one roof. I remember when, as a young child, I hated the fact that I am part of a big family. It is challenging in so many ways – financially, physically, and emotionally. My siblings and I would fight a lot over petty things, and I also witnessed how my parents had to juggle their time, presence, and resources as much as they could in order to provide all of us the best kind of life. I sometimes thought to myself that if only we were a small family, things would have been so much better. But I was completely selfish and wrong on this.
Being in the community made me realize that I am actually blessed with a beautiful family. Through proper formations as a member of then, “Youth for Family and Life” now MFC-Youth, I began to appreciate my parents and siblings. I gradually understood that God has given all of them to me so I can experience His love concretely. They are actually my source of strength and refuge if only I let them be. It made me see that even though we may not be rich financially, my parents have taught us to the best of their capability, virtues, and principles that allowed me to respond to God’s call and live out the missionary life. They offered me support as I learned and grew to become the person that I am now.
Through the years, I began to see my siblings as my real friends. They should be because they are the people who really know me more than most people do. I consider my sisters as my best friends. We still fight, but I can be my most honest and vulnerable self with them. All the struggles and challenges of life are bearable because I know that they will always choose to be by my side as I am with them.
With the inspiration of the Holy Family— St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin, and the Child Jesus, I started to see all of my family members as a precious gift regardless of how imperfect each one of us maybe. I became more intentional in showing love and respect to my parents. Over the years, I have grown in my relationship with them. As for my siblings, we still fight, but at the end of the day, I will always choose to understand and forgive them because this is what family is about. We choose to stay together despite our failings.
At present, all of us are already members of the community. It is an answered prayer, but to be honest, the mission of loving and praying for them never stops. I think it is an endless call that God wants for me and for all of us, that is, to be missionaries to our own families. If your family is far from the ideal, do not worry, may God give you the heart to become the source of reconciliation and forgiveness, and with His grace, may you find peace in the story of your own family.
Karen Penetrante is a Full-Time Pastoral Worker for MFC Youth serving the area of NCR Central