Family and Youth Conference 2013 - Final Day
OUR CHALLENGE: BE THE FACES THAT REFLECT THE LIFE OF CHRIST
By: Fr. Paulose T. Peter
In his final keynote address on the Conference
theme, Rev. Fr. Dr. Baby Varghese stated that his
intention in the course of two sessions was simply
to kindle a spark in the minds of the listeners
rather than ignite a full scale fire to bring about
radical changes to the way we think on the subject
St. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians
gives a litany of things for us to follow in order to
lead a well pleasing life before God, he said. For us
Christians, presenting our lives as a well pleasing
sacrifice to God must become rather a way of life
than a one-time event.
God does not expect from us a life of solitude
but a life of community.
Common prayer as opposed
to individual prayer makes us feel a part of the community
and bonds our relationship with it. As members
of a community we are endowed with a mission
with responsibilities by which we need to reach out
and touch others.
Prayer should be sensitive to the needs of
others, always being ready to extend a helping hand.
Such a help does not have to be in terms of finance
but by way of Fellowship with others. It can take the
form of admonishing those who commit offences or
giving a consoling presence of God in order to instill
in them a feeling of confidence that being in God’s
hands means living free of anxieties and uncertainties.
Orthodox worship is corporate worship in
which family life is a big witness. We may be able to
hire a servant for menial household duties but we
will never be able to hire someone either to love us
or to share our confidence. It is from the family and
the community that we obtain such love and care. A
family is God’s design and it was God who decided that “Man should not be alone”.
Based on the exhortation to Thessalonians,
Varghese Achen emphasized the need to pray constantly
and he elaborated on the different aspects
of prayer. Praying is a courageous act, he said.
Repetition of canonical prayers is not enough. Since
prayer is an expression of our love to God, it should
be extended to include others who are in various
types of needs whether for healing, consolation,
peace of mind or any other. It is worth noting that
the book of Psalms does not contain a single prayer
for material gains. Though the church has designated
praying seven times a day (Ps. 119:164), Paul
insists on incessant prayer.
What distinguishes the Monks who practices
asceticism from those who have families is not the
fact that they are not married but that they have a
strong prayer life.
A family man may feel more solitary than a
Monk who enjoys the Fellowship of other Monks and
spends more time in prayer in the company of God.
Achen encouraged his listeners to find more quality
time to spend in meditation instead of wasting time
engaging in gossips to discredit others and to tear
their reputations apart.
Baby Varghese Achen refused to buy the argument
that people are too busy to find time to pray
because of the demands placed on them by their
career or their family. Citing the lame excuses made
by Lazarus’ sister Martha for not being able to spend
time with Jesus due to the heavy workload in the
kitchen thereby missing what was most essential,
he said that we must find time to read the Word of
God prayerfully and carefully.
In prayer quality is more important than quantity.
We are often swayed and led astray by a materialistic
world but it is high time we woke up and
smelled the coffee, realizing that many of the values
upheld by the world are plain wrong.
not be seen as an “unending weekend with lots of
fun”, said Fr. Varghese. It is instead a continued
daily realization of the presence of God.
Baby Varghese Achen further pointed out that
God’s granting of forgiveness comes very cheap.
Even the compassionate offer of a small cup of water
to a needy one or a little humane act to alleviate the
pain of others shall be big enough to open the floodgates
of God’s abundant grace to flow without any
reservation. Fr. Varghese ended his scholarly keynote
discourse on the conference theme in these
words. In a world where many tend to hold dear to
their hearts wrong and distorted values, “Our challenge
is to be the faces that reflect the life of Christ”.
Read the rest of the Family and Youth Conference Newsletter (PDF)
Family and Youth Conference
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