You may or may not know that most marriages in India are arranged by the family. The decision to marry someone is not the privilege of the individual but the result of a collective process in which the family, especially the parents, have the maximum input. After raising their child to adulthood, parents feel it is their duty to find a life partner for their offspring. In fact, mothers and fathers consider it their right to settle their children in life. In some families the child in question has very little effect on the final outcome. Sometimes I say jokingly that I became a priest to avoid an arranged marriage.
I have ten nieces and nephews, and the oldest of them are now reaching the age when parents start getting anxious about settling them down. My younger sister, Rita, has been worried about her daughter, Aarti, finding the right mate. As soon as my niece turned 23, my sister went into high gear. She registered her daughter on several matrimonial websites which are all run by local parishes or the diocese. Sometime before Christmas there was a proposal from a family. The young man was of good character, had a good job, was good looking and hailed from a good family. My sister and brother-in-law were very happy. They were hopeful the proposal would turn into a wedding. Unfortunately for reasons unknown to us the whole thing fell apart and my sister was crushed.
Every time I would talk to my sister after that, I tried to console her and asked her to trust in the Lord. My sister usually agreed with me but deep down she was not happy with the Lord. She would keep complaining that so many proposals show initial promise but all of them fizzle out. She was even fearful that her daughter might not find a worthy suitor.
Then about a month ago, out of the blue, a family from another part of India contacted my sister’s family. They visited my sister’s family with their son. That first meeting led to further meetings and discussions, and as a result a firm proposal was made. My niece liked the guy and he liked her. Within three weeks, the whole matter was settled.
Probably you are all shocked how anyone could come to such a momentous decision so quickly. Well, that is how marriages are arranged for the most part. I have to be in India in February to celebrate the wedding of my first nephew and during that visit I will also celebrate the engagement of my niece. She will be married sometime in June, of course by me.
The other day I was reminding my sister, Rita, of how she did not believe me when I said that God would come through. She told me that she was even mad at the Lord. She acknowledged that she fought with God. Now she sees it all clearly. He had a plan for my niece and would reveal it when the time was right. As humans we are always in a hurry. Often we are not respectful of God’s timing.
These days in our daily Masses we are reading from the First Book of Samuel. The mother of Samuel, Hannah, was barren. Her barrenness was a reproach for her and she complained to God. She even went into the Temple early in the morning and poured out her anguish in the Lord’s presence. Little did she know that God would give her a son
and that son would become one of the greatest leaders of Israel! Samuel shaped the history of God’s people very powerfully, and he anointed the first king of Israel as well as David. If Hannah knew how it would all turn out, she would not have complained.
How often all of us are like Hannah and like my sister! We get anxious that things will not turn out to our best advantage. We do not trust in God’s timing. We like things to change or happen according to our schedule. When we put our trust in God, we need to trust also His timing. He knows when it is the right time.
I heard that in one of his daily homilies, Fr. Muraya, our associate pastor, shared the following reflection. I hope I am paraphrasing his words correctly. When we pray and ask God for something, God can answer us in one of three ways: 1. Yes; 2. No; and 3. Not now. So many times I have seen it in my own life. God says that it is not the right time for something to take place. I need to be patient.
Let us put our complete trust in our God who loves us immensely. Let us trust not only in His love but also in His timing. Let us believe in the words of Paul: Everything works unto good for those who love God.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...