“Does a single fetus offer any value to the general public, or should its value be determined by the mother?”
This question was posed by my Godson a few years ago when he and I were debating the topic of abortion. When he left for college, he, like many teens, was surrounded by the liberal ideologies that are so common on college campuses, and he began to question just about every moral he had been taught growing up. He managed to stay true to his Catholic upbringing, but at the time he was starting a thoughtful discussion with me as he searched to validate what we as Catholics believe about the sanctity of life.
Every life has value, whether they live to two months old, or fifty-three years old, or sixty-six, or ninety-one. Some lives, like the very young, it takes time to understand the value God placed in them. Others’ value to society is realized the moment we learn of their passing and recount their impact on the lives they touched while they were here among us.
The loss of a life causes most everyone to examine the purpose of their own lives. Mankind has long agonized over the questions, “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why am I here?” Typically these questions are posed by people without faith, or who have had their belief in God shaken. The Book of Wisdom tells us “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the loss of the living. For He created all things that they might exist.” So the answer is both simple and complex: We are here because God wants us here. We are here because of God’s will. We may at times feel insignificant, yet we are each crucial and vastly important to the plans and will of God. The choices we make can have lasting impacts on people tens of generations from now.
When we experience the loss of a loved one, whether it’s the loss of a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a respected part of our community, we must remember that their life — no matter how brief or how long — played a crucial role in God’s plan. Sometimes we see a beautiful life cut short by tragedy; other times we see a death after a long suffering and wonder why God waited so long to release that soul to eternal rest. A person’s death is almost always incomprehensible to us because we are not meant to comprehend death; it is only a person’s life that we have the capacity to understand. It is a person’s life that we learn from, take lessons from, and are inspired by.
Everyone is an irreplaceable part of a plan so vast and so perfect that we cannot begin to fully comprehend it and our own place within it, let alone fully understand someone else’s role. One thing is clear: we were all born for this time, for this age, and each of our lives has value and a purpose in God’s plan. We are all entrusted with special talents, and commissioned to be good stewards of them. Our lives, no matter how long or short they may be, are all essential parts of God’s perfect plan. And He is counting on each of us to rise up and choose to do our part.
So the question is not “why am I here” but instead “what does God want me to accomplish while I am here?” And what then is the meaning of life? It is to make meaning of your life, by being a good steward of the unique talents God has entrusted to you and you alone. God wants us all to step up to bat and use our talents for Him. If we choose to do our part in His plan and to glorify Him through our works, He will bless our journey around the bases. And when He brings us home from third base He will tell us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come, enter into the joy of your master!”