Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Did Our Lord ever laugh?

Of course, He did. He was human as well as divine and laughter must have been commonplace at the carpenter's bench.

But we seldom see images of Christ laughing, or even smiling for that matter.

Would it be regarded as frivolous for the maker of the world, the Supreme Spirit, to be observed laughing?

Well, yes, in a sense, it would. God the Son offered up His life for us all and suffered both mentally and physically in a most horrendous fashion; that is not a matter for congeniality.

But, as a child, back in Nazareth, Our Blessed Lord must have laughed alongside his holy father at the workbench and, sitting round the table, surely He would have gently laughed with His Blessed Mother?

Well - He did, of course, and here is the image that proves the point:

This statue of Madonna and Child is copied from a statuette by the famous Florentine sculptor, Antonio Gamberelli Rossellino.

It is known as ‘The Virgin with Laughing Child’ and the original was made circa 1465.

This statue now rests in a side chapel at the Shrine of St Winefride in Holywell in North Wales.

If you look closely you will see that the infant Christ is not merely smiling; He is laughing, as any child of six or eight months of age might do.

Sometimes we tend to forget the human element of Our Blessed Lord, the fact that He suffered the same problems that children do today. A scraped knee, a splinter in the hand (prophetic indeed) or a speck of dirt in His eye.

And who, with worldly cares, would not be ecstatic to be held in the arms of the Mother of us all?

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae:
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus, exsules, filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, Advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos
ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis, post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens: O pia: O dulcis
Virgo Maria.


  1. Richard,
    The Lord most certainly had good laugh when he created me!



  2. Isn't there perhaps an "undistributed middle" in your syllogism: "Christ was human. To laugh is human. Therefore Christ laughed"? The whole question in the Middle Ages and beyond, viz the so-called risibility of Christ, was precisely centered on whether human laughter was the effect of venial sin (unseemly laughter), nescience (laughter of surprise), or ignorance.

    In other words, was human laughter (sinless, of course) assumed by Christ with His human nature as something necessary to His mission? (After all, He did not assume everything human because some things did not befit His mission, e.g. susceptibility to disease.)

    --A friend, but a Thomist, too.

  3. Perhaps my understanding of humor/risibility/reason to laugh is wrong, but I thought it was the result of being able to recognize the incongruity in things...
    Anyway, this was always one of my favorite depictions of Christ: http://www.jesuslaughing.com/

  4. Funny you should mention this…I have often thought there must have been some ‘humor’ in Our Lord’s life and believe I found a few instances. Not necessarily guffaws or belly-laughs, but I think Our Lord saw some humor in certain situations in the Gospels, viz:

    When he told the Samaritan woman that the children’s food should not be given to dogs and she replied that even the dogs scarf up the crumbs under the table, I imagined a smile on Our Lord’s face and a touché moment. “Not quite what I was thinking, but good point…!”

    When Peter failed on his water-walking episode I think Our Lord may have smiled a little at Peter – long on enthusiasm but short on faith – as He knew exactly what would happen.

    When the mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to ensure a special place in Heaven for her sons He might have shown some wry amusement at the human longings and ambition of a mother.

    When Philip asked Him to show them the Father, perhaps it wasn’t a smile but certainly some exasperation! “How long have I been with you…?”

    And so on…

  5. How can he not have been laughing when he named James and John the "sons of thunder"?

  6. This sounded like such an obvious question to me. Of course Jesus laughed. But His mission was no laughing matter -hence the Church's affection for the image of the crucifix. Some churches go out of their way to sanitize any suffering images to the point that they're left with the empty cross. Take care not to frivolize Him into comical caricature. I must sound like a killjoy but like in that old TV show, Hogan's Heroes, the grave matter at hand didn't seem so bad.

  7. A wise man's take on this subject:

  8. there is absolutely nothing in the bible to suggest Jesus ever laughed or told a joke or was even amused at any of God's creation. He may have felt joy and happiness but never laughter. Is there anything funny about God's creation? No.

    1. Thank you for providing this definite, correct reply. I was never sure about this matter (i.e. whether Christ laughed or not) until I read this comment.

  9. There is a time for everything including play and laughter... I'm looking forward to running a sprint race with my Father across the galaxy someday... loser buys lunch. Tee hee hee...

  10. GOR, I've always loved the story of the Samaritan woman and felt Our Lord was teasing her and I'm sure He laughed when she came back with the smart answer. Perhaps that's why he said it.

  11. Jesus made many a wry remark!

    1. Oh sure he did!

      I remember he cracked one about the clever servant who wrote off his master's debtors so that he might be welcomed to their homes after he got laid off...

      I never did get it though