Up Front and Personal

Yes, Baby Jesus Drooled And Burped

by Veronica Szczygiel

The highlight of my Wednesday afternoons is teaching CCD to six second-grade students at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Greenpoint. These six children – two girls, four boys – are incredibly energetic, curious, witty, and brilliantly insightful. I decided to ask them how they think Jesus acted as a baby. One boy automatically answered that Jesus probably cried when he was born. The others agreed. And then I asked them, what else?  What else did Jesus do as a baby? But this time, I was met with silence and a few shrugs.

So I described behavior in which Jesus would have partaken, which of course was behavior that any and all infants exhibit. My students got a big kick out of the fact that Jesus drooled, giggled, burped, probably pulled Mary’s hair and Joseph’s beard, and had to have His diapers changed. They were really amazed at how Baby Jesus would have done all the “gross” things a regular baby does. I was surprised at their amazement.  They’ve been taught that Jesus came to Earth as a human being. So why should these bodily functions be so uproariously funny to them? (I’m not exaggerating – one of my students couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of Baby Jesus needing new diapers!)

I realized, however, that their reaction lies in the fact that my students think first and foremost of Jesus as God – this invisible, loving Being – and the fact that He is also human is only that: a fact. And we adults, too, are prone to prioritizing the divine in Jesus and sweeping His humanity under the carpet.  We focus on Jesus’ miracles, His healing powers, His message of peace, and His resurrection, which are all aspects of the divine that we need to understand and contemplate. However, Jesus was also human. And we cannot forget that. In fact, His humanity is quite endearing and comforting.

When I am worried, stressed, fatigued, scared or angry, I feel comforted when I remember that Jesus felt each one of these sensations, too. His feet hurt after a long day of walking in the desert; His body ached when He fasted. (And perhaps He felt a bit tipsy at the wedding in Cana. Who knows?) But Jesus wasn’t only human in corporeality.  He was very human in His emotions as well. He wept at the passing of His friend Lazarus, just as we would at the passing of a loved one. He felt angry when the people turned a temple into a marketplace, just as we would feel angry if our homes were defiled. And He felt scared as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, just as we feel scared when we face something we can’t control, like death – another very human reality Jesus experienced.

Jesus was totally, completely human, but He was the best human that ever walked on the Earth. What do I mean?  Jesus, in His humanity, showed us the way that humans could and should live. We can be peacemakers; we can be healers in our own way.  We can live without sin; we can forgive our neighbors for their wrongdoings.  And Jesus’ way of life is possible precisely because He was human, just like us.
So if you ever feel burdened or lonely or weak, take comfort in the fact that Jesus once felt that way, too. He was as vulnerable, physically and emotionally, as we are now. After all, He once was only a tiny little baby, dirty diapers and all.

One thought on “Yes, Baby Jesus Drooled And Burped

  1. Thanks for the wonderful Christmas-New Year article by Veronica Szczygiel on Baby Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was truly human and truly divine! To make the point, I sometimes shock Catholics with the painting by German artist Max Ernst, a picture of Jesus over the knee of Mary, and she is about to SPANK Jesus – gently and lovingly, but a spanking nevertheless True, Jesus did not sin, but he probably did on occasion break a dish or knock over a glass, and so Mary had to teach him a lesson.
    (Rev.) Peter Schineller, S.J.

    PS I am sending you a copy of this painting by separate e-mail –