Monday, May 7, 2012

Lessons from Sebastian

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!” Psalm 139: 13-14

Last week was hard. While in the middle of conducting a retreat for our parish middle school students, my wife called to tell me that she was having a miscarriage. I was able to leave the retreat early and drove home to grieve with and support my wife and other children. It was tough. It still is. But at the same time, the grace of God has been blowing me away this past week and I have been trying to soak it all in. What I realized as the days went by was how much my son, Sebastian Luke, was able to teach the world in his short, 17 weeks of life.

Lesson #1: There IS a human baby in the womb, not just a bunch of cells. I was given the privilege of preparing Sebastian’s body before we took him to the funeral home. I washed his frail, almost perfect, little body and placed him in a satin-lined box. Most of his older siblings had the sublime experience of seeing his ten perfect toes and fingers, his little ears and nose (he had an Anthony nose). There was no mistaking his miniature form as a human, not a potential human, who simply needed time and nourishment before looking exactly like you and me. I don’t know what the future holds for each of his siblings that were able to gaze upon his body, but I know they will NEVER believe the lie that what is inside the womb is not a human life.

Lesson #2: Tragedy bonds us in ways that nothing else can. It was moving to see my oldest son overcome with grief for his little sibling that he would never know or play with in this life. In the safe cocoon of our home and family he did not have to be ashamed about lettings his emotions out. Sebastian taught his older brother, and all of us, that life is precious and sacred and that it is right to express sorrow when life is destroyed or lost or disrespected. Sebastian taught us that we need to be more compassionate towards one another and that we need to be more passionate about showing love to one another.

Lesson #3: Life is short and we need to cherish each moment. Whether you live only 17 weeks in the womb or you live to be 117, life is going to seem short. Especially when compared to eternity. What Sebastian taught us is that we need to stop sweating the small stuff and start living each day with eternal vision, recognizing that each day could be our last and that we will be meeting the Lord sooner rather than later. Sebastian taught us to live for HEAVEN—the place where we will one day meet him. Sebastian taught us to have our priorities straight.

Lesson #4: Funerals are important. It was an honor to be able to pray over his little body, carry his coffin and to help place it in the ground and cover it with flowers and dirt. As I shoveled the earth into the grave I was reminded that we came from dust and that we would return to dust. Sebastian taught me humility in that moment. Who is Scott Anthony? Nothing more than an imperfect child of God, imperfect husband and father, imperfect son and brother and imperfect youth minister and Catholic speaker; in fact, in 150 years, no one living now will even have a clue about who I was. But God knows me and He has given me THIS day, THIS moment, THIS time in salvation history to be His follower and to learn to love as He loved. Sebastian taught me that everyone is important and known by God and that I need to cherish each moment and live each day to serve Him.

Lesson #5: Sebastian taught all of us that EVERY life matters, no matter how small. There is NO ONE who is insignificant in the eyes of God and EVERY life has a purpose and plan. While Sebastian’s life was very short and he never even lived to see the light of day or the faces of his family members, he sees more clearly now than we do. While the rest of the world might say that his existence was worthless or a waste, they are wrong! Sebastian taught us all this and so much more. And most importantly, we now have another intercessor in heaven cheering us home. We can never underestimate the eternal value of his prayers for us still struggling to find our way. He taught us that EVERY life is gifted with the ability to love and to help others see God and get to heaven.

Sebastian Luke lived a short life, not long enough to even be measured by the standards of the world, but he lived a life of greatness when measured by God’s standards. May we all strive to live as rich and meaningful of a life as my precious little Sebastian Luke.

Sebastian Luke, pray for us!