My Brother, Matthew
by Micah Vawter, age 12
One summer afternoon, we all smiled as my 10-year-old brother Matthew cheerily yelled “Merry Christmas!” to the family sitting at the table next to us as we were leaving a restaurant. At first they were bewildered because it was nowhere near Christmastime. But then we all laughed and they started smiling too. I giggled and put my arm around him, holding his soft little hand. I wondered how my life and the lives of the people around us would be different if we didn’t have Matthew in our family.
While my mom was pregnant with Matthew, he was diagnosed with Down syndrome and heart defects so severe that the doctors told Mom that he probably would die before birth. If he lived to be born, he would probably only live a couple of minutes, or maybe a few weeks, but he would definitely not live until his first birthday. The doctors tried to convince my mom to abort Matthew, but Mom refused. The doctors pressed, but Mom’s answer was the same. Matthew was born weighing only four pounds, too weak to eat or even cry. Our family took him home to love him for as long as we had him. After six months, Matthew was growing stronger and not weaker as the doctors had thought he would. When we took him back to the hospital, the cardiologist found that Matthew’s heart had grown and fixed itself in ways that the doctors had never seen. Only one surgery was needed to repair his heart completely. The surgery worked, and now Matthew is a bundle of joy with four siblings and a heart that works perfectly.
To the doctors who suggested abortion, Matthew’s life had no value. That is exactly what Jesus is talking about when He says “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” He is saying that the least of these are the disabled, the elderly, the “unwanted” children, and people such as Matthew, who have no value in the eyes of society. But Jesus says we should all care for and love the least of these, not disregard them. I care for Matthew by giving him a little extra help with everyday tasks, such as putting his shoes on or helping him put his clothes on in the morning. He also takes a little longer to learn things. Sometimes I have to take a moment to slow down and explain something to him. However, the benefits that he brings us far outweigh the small sacrifices that we have to make for him. Matthew is a window into the love and joy of God. He has an unconditional love for everyone and forgives everyone quickly. Just giving him a hug or a word of encouragement can change his mood entirely. He constantly prays and loves to go to church. Matthew can’t hide his emotions, so I can always tell if he is feeling sad or lonely or exited or happy. People with Down syndrome like Matthew have incorruptible, pure souls. They are valuable and needed in this world as an example of how to live our lives with a childlike faith.
Every baby should have a chance to live a full and happy life. Abortion takes away that chance. Jesus says that however we treat the disabled and unwanted is how we are treating Him. He is telling us to care for His people and help them. Babies with Down syndrome or other disabilities have just as much of a right to life as we do, but 90-93 percent of parents who discover their baby has Down syndrome choose abortion. These babies who are precious and loved by Jesus are cast out, unloved, and hated by the world. All they need is love, a home, and a family, just like the rest of us. Everyone can do something in life to help. People can vote for candidates who support pro-life legislation and volunteer for or donate to pro-life organizations. Everyone can also help in little ways, such as becoming friends with someone with disabilities.
Standing up for ‘the least of these’ means showing the world their value and seeing the inherent value in every human being. Jesus teaches us that every person in the world is priceless in the eyes of God. We should all try to help in whatever ways we can to carry out God’s plan to help these people. They have many things that they can teach us and show us about loving God with all of your mind, heart, and soul. We need to show society that all of the people on earth are precious and that the people they consider the least might be the most valuable of us all.
© 2017 Micah Vawter. Published with permission.