Mr. Jasbir Vardi invited me to his home for a simple get-together celebration. He wanted to celebrate two important milestones in his life: his baptism and the first communion of his son, Omar. These are two things he very much treasure because they are family matters.
He was actually baptized last June 1, 2006 by Fr. Peter Porio, SDB at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Punta Princesa. But the celebration has been delayed for one reason or the other. Born a Sikh in India, he gradually discovered Jesus Christ in his life and finally asked for Baptism. Through this act of faith, he made the decision to surrender his life to Jesus and to follow His teachings as His disciple.
His son Omar’s first holy communion last December 9, 2006 also filled him with so much joy. He witnessed it in the same church where he was baptized. He himself prepared his boy for this momentous event when he would be receiving the Lord for the first time. He believes nothing could be greater than this encounter when God enters into the human heart in the simplicity of bread and wine.
I came late for the feast. There were only a few guests but they were well chosen; people who have accompanied him in his spiritual journey were invited. The party have started when I arrived and I missed the best part – a power point presentation of his spiritual journey towards Christ! My consolation was, he shared some of his spiritual awakenings during our conversation.
I realize that this person is deeply rooted living out the principles he believed in. He is married to a Cebuana who is working in the States. They have two children, Omar being the eldest and Almira the youngest. He used to work in one of the companies of Saudi Arabia as a computer specialist with a very good income. Soon he realized there’s something wrong with his family’s priorities: he and his wife are away, while the children are left to grow by themselves here in Cebu. He thought that this was not quite right. Something must be done. So after much thought, he left his high-paying job to be a “full-time” father to his children.
Today he has a little business. He cannot afford certain luxuries he used to enjoy. But deep in his heart he feels a real sense of fulfillment knowing that he is with his children accompanying them as they grow. His wife could not understand his impractical decision to give up his job. Yet he is convinced that more than money, the family must come first. He does every little thing for the good of his children as their father and mentor. He brings them to school; he tutors them in their school work; he plays with them and pray with them. He simply wastes his time with them.
As I think of Mr. Vardi, I thank God for parents like him who still understand what sacrificial love means. To be a parent is one of the most demanding and difficult vocation one could aspire. It requires responsibility, total availability and so much love. In fact, tremendous amount of love is demanded that can be a source of strength and healing for each member of the family.
One lesson of the Christmas story is that God became man and became a part of the human family. Jesus made himself a child who needed the love, protection and care of his parents in the person of Joseph and Mary. In this way He made it clear that the family is the cradle of life and love. If being a good parent is difficult enough, being a good Christian parent is doubly difficult. The exhortation once uttered by John Paul II is worth reminiscing: “Family, believe in what you are!”