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 many ways.

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)

 

 

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