What makes a human being a human being? Is it a case of knowing one when we see one? The Bible, however, teaches us not to judge by appearances. And, so, there must be more to it…
Looking at this picture of you, in your first month of life, you looked more like a tadpole than a human being. In fact, scientists say that there is very little difference in appearance between a frog, a mouse, and a human being at the embryonic stage. It’s right and natural that we have commonality with all living things – we are all creatures, after all, created to live on this earth. Didn’t St. Francis sing of our brotherhood and sisterhood with the fish and the birds and the beasts of the fields and woods? The variety of creatures in our planetary home is rich, amazing, and beautiful. Some are green and slimy, and hop and swim; some are small and furry, and scurry and gnaw; some are tall and long-haired, and write poetry and map stars.
The differences are hidden at the start, but we can come closest to the secret of the body when we study DNA, the fully intended design of the living being. In this, we are readily identifiable as human from our conception. And as we grow, our human uniqueness will be more and more revealed, through every stage of development – even through to old age and natural death.
Once you reached your second month of existence, the differences already began to show, slowly but surely, with the folding and layering of cells. Your mouth and tongue developed, with taste buds and teeth buds – your human mouth, designed to sing a wide spectrum of notes and to speak a variety of complex languages, praising the goodness of life. Your ears were formed – human ears, designed to hear love and to listen to wisdom. Your eyes took shape – human eyes, designed to see wondrous beauty and to seek glimpses of the divine. And you grew your arms and legs, your toes and your fingers, and, yes, your thumbs – on your human hands designed to heal, to build, and to give.
Spiritual traits, gifted to every human being from conception, had their physical counterparts take form in the second month in utero – all while you were still less than one inch tall! Your brain was functioning at just 40 days, and your brain waves grew and responded to the changes and developments of your body, your growing muscles ready and active to move as is willed. You kicked, flipped, and swam at this age – you even had hiccups. With not all organs fully functioning yet, and your bodily and facial features needing refinement, you still looked a bit alien – but this little lifeform depicted, growing in the womb, is definitively human, through and through. This little lifeform is you – amazingly and beautifully human, beloved by God.