Marcello went to be with His brother Manuel and His Savior early this morning. He was cradled in the arms of his mother while father and oldest brother Mateo looked on. His passing was unexpected, tragic and sad.
“What good can come of this?” many have asked. “Why did God do this?” “Why didn’t God do that?” Such are the questions that flow from our grief.
Today, I find myself reflecting on what it means to live a well-lived life. There are many ways to measure a life. Longevity and quality are standards often used to measure a person’s life. According to these human measures, it may seem that Manuel, Marcello and their family have been cheated by God.
Marcello and Manuel’s lives were very short. They outlived their prognosis, considering how they entered into this life. But their earthly lives will be measured in weeks and months when most of us would prefer to live many, many years.
Quality of life is often measured in freedom. We long to be free and to move around. Their complex and difficult medical conditions prevented them from living long apart from the machines that preserved their lives. They lived their entire lives in a few cramped NICU rooms. This is not the quality of life any of us would choose to live.
God measures their lives different. He measures their lives in love. And when we see how much these little boys were loved, their lives were in no way lived in vain.
God loved these two little ones enough to give them life. Their Savior poured His own life out for them on the cross. He also rose from the dead so that they too may rise. We will lay the earthly remains of Marcello into the ground for sleep. But both he and Manuel will rise from the grave to eternal life.
God also tells us that the littlest of these have a special place in His heart:
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV)
This doesn’t mean that God loves little children more than the rest of us. Rather, it means He loves us as much as He loves them because we are all His children. Human beings tend to love people conditionally depending on what they can do for us. God loves unconditionally, based upon what He’s done for us. Marcello and Manuel have received God’s love in the most innocent of ways. They are eternally blessed for it.
Those who have known and loved and cared for these boys are also eternally blessed for their sake. Jesus promised, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV) The outpouring of love for these twins has been immense. Well-wishes and prayers have been sent from all over the globe. None of these prayers have been said in vain.
As an eye witness, I assure you, these boys experienced no lack of love during their short earthly lives. Mom doted upon them. Dad carried them and cared from them so as to make all fathers proud. Their grandparents and brothers surrounded them. Their nurses and doctors are living proof of God’s love at work in this world. For all of this, these boys were blessed more than most could ever hope.
What is the measure of a life well-lived? A life well-lived isn’t measured in “how long,” “how much,” or “how good.” To live a life well-lived is to be well-loved.