Family and Youth Conference 2013 Day 3
A TRIBUTE TO BARNABAS THIRUMENI: REV FR DR BABY VARGHESE
By Fr. Paulose T. Peter
Opening the Keynote address on the Conference Theme, “Offer ourselves as a living Sacrifice” (Rom 12:1), Rev Fr Dr Baby Varghese
stated that the very choice of the theme verse was
a fitting tribute to the Late Lamented Barnabas
Thirumeni because it was the pet topic of His Grace
whose earthly life bore witness to the theme in
Fr. Varghese, Professor at the Kottayam
Theological Seminary and the Keynote speaker for
adults and FOCUS, has a pretty impressive resume.
His presentation was methodical, academic, scholarly
and well-researched. The audience in general
felt it more like a study class and a serious presentation.
Labeling the theme as St. Paul’s exhortation to
the Romans, Baby Varghese Achen ‘provoked deepening
thoughts’ on the theme with stories and anecdotes
inculcated in between. Defining the theme
verse to mean ‘a life well-pleasing to God’, Achen
exhorted the listeners to shape their lives after the
pattern of Christ becoming partakers of His cross.
"Sincere prayers and thanksgiving from the heart
and a sharing attitude to others constitute the pleasing
sacrifice to God," he said.
Dissecting the Old Testament meaning of Sacrifice
in which offering of animals and things God
has blessed us with and sharing what was sacrificed,
he reminded to be grateful to God for all His
blessings and to enjoy the Fellowship by sharing
them with others.
Abraham was elevated to the envious position
of being the ‘Father of the Faithful’ not only because
he obeyed God without question but also because of
his generosity and large heartedness in ironing the
problems between him and Lot and also the hospitality
he extended to strangers without expecting
anything in return. Abraham’s exemplary behavior
should be an eye opener to all of us whose unyielding
behavior fans the flames of perennial family
disputes among relatives.
Even a radiant smile that costs nothing can
become an offer of prayer and spiritual sacrifice,
Achen added, because it brings out the best in us.
Quoting the poet Charles Peguy who wrote, “we
should not pray like geese waiting for food’, he
pointed out that prayers packed and cluttered with
a litany of personal needs would be no prayer at all.
Charity is also a form of prayer and sacrifice because
it contains the invisible presence of Christ.
Achen enforced this point further by quoting from
early church Fathers such as St. Gregory and St.
Chrisostom. He criticized those who make a mockery
of charity by fake fund-raising and issuance of
make-believe receipts for projects which have no
bearing on charity. An offering in itself is not a guarantee
for forgiveness, he said, but a sincere offering
that emanates from the heart alone is acceptable
and pleasing to God. Achen raised the bar even
higher when he said that honest work is worship.
In a world where success is reserved for those who
live masked lives with cheating, bribing and buying
favors with influence, our challenge is to maintain
honesty and integrity. Humility, hospitality, visiting
the sick, feeding the hungry, detaching ourselves
from consumerism and addictiveness and simplicity
– all these and more encapsulate the real meaning
of prayer and well pleasing sacrifice to God.
Baby Varghese Achen concluded his hour and a
half long presentation saying that in the present
world where ideal life is defined as being single, rich
and famous, our challenge is to lead a simple life
being a good family member, a good friend and a
good neighbor, thereby offering ourselves as a living
sacrifice to God.
Read more about Day 3 in the Family and Youth Conference Newspaper (PDF)
Family and Youth Conference
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