Apr 13, 2014

Homeless Jesus

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

A public art installation in an affluent North Carolina suburb is causing some consternation amongst the locals. One woman even called the police when she noticed what appeared to be a homeless person sleeping on a bench outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church. Another complained in a letter to the editor of the local paper. But the vagrant cast in bronze is artist Timothy Schmalz's conception of Jesus.

Some neighbors felt it was an insulting depiction of the Son of God, and what appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench demeans the neighborhood.

The bronze statue was purchased for $22,000 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate McIntyre, who had loved public art. The rector of this liberal, inclusive church is Rev. David Buck, a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-Episcopalian who seems not at all averse to the controversy, the double-takes and the discussion the statue has provoked.

"It gives authenticity to our church," he says. "This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society."

. . .

"We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person."

No kidding, huh? Isn't it funny how people forget that. Just as they forget that he told people to sell all they owned and give their money to the poor. (Luke 18:22 and Matthew 19:21)

Schmalz's inspiration for Jesus the Homeless came from Matthew 25:31-46:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Homeless Jesus may be disrupting more communities as Schmalz presses forward with his plan to install his masterpiece at churches all over the world. The holy vagrant can now be seen sleeping on benches in front of St. John's Episcopal in Grand Haven, Michigan and the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto.

And while the devout Catholic artist was declined by St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan and St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, approval is pending in Rome for the installation to appear on the avenue leading to St. Peter's Basilica. A miniature presented at the Vatican received a blessing from Pope Francis.

"He walked over to the sculpture, and it was just chilling because he touched the knee of the Jesus the Homeless sculpture, and closed his eyes and prayed," Schmalz says. "It was like, that's what he's doing throughout the whole world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the marginalized."

1 comment:

  1. God is the Almighty Creat of of the Universe. In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. He created everything and it was all good. He created the first man and woman Adam and Eve. They lived in the Garden of Eden.
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