This life-sized sculpture is entitled, Jesus the Homeless.
When you look at this piece of art, how do you feel?
I ask this question because the statue’s Canadian creator, Timothy Schmalz, says that this particular piece was “intended to provoke. I’m very sensitive about the stereotypes that people have of Christianity, so I wanted to give a fresh presentation.”
Interesting – for two years, it was the sculpture that no one would take. It was considered “too controversial.” Historically, Jesus has been depicted in art as triumphant, gentle or suffering but Jesus as an outcast, sleeping on a bench? Schmalz was told that, “it was not an appropriate image.”
After almost two years, the sculpture finally found a home outside Regis College, the Jesuit school of theology at the University of Toronto. Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz brought the original wooden model of his sculpture to St. Peter’s Square because Pope Francis called it, “beautiful” and requested it.
It takes a moment to see that the slight figure shrouded by a blanket, disturbingly similar to the real homeless who lie on grates and in doorways, is Jesus. It’s the gaping wounds in His feet that reveal His identity…and for many, it provokes an emotional response.
To some who have seen it, it speaks the message of the Gospels. When theologian Thomas Reynolds came upon it, he felt “the shock of recognition.” He quoted the biblical passage: ” the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8.20) “I’m so used to seeing images of Jesus that are palatable,” says Reynolds.
Others are angered by the sculpture, claiming disrespect or historical inaccuracy.
This statue isn’t of Christ while He was among the living – as is proven by the pierced feet. This statue is of Christ after crucifixion – after He had been whipped and tortured and nailed to a cross and died a violent death and after three days, had risen from the dead. After Jesus Christ rose from the tomb – I assure you He was not homeless and he certainly would NOT have been found sleeping on a park bench.” Ed Brown
I’m not sure what I think – I just know that the sculpture MAKES me think. I’m forced to respond. Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I can not look at this sculpture without thinking and feeling. I’m not offended by the sculpture because minimally, Jesus is the glorified King who identifies with the homeless – He reached out to those who were hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually – and this statue reminds me of the times that I have passed by the homeless and done nothing.
This sculpture moves me. Historically correct or not, it moves me.
MAKE A MOMENT TO MUSE
- What’s your initial reaction to this sculpture?
- Where does your mind go when you spend time looking at this piece of art?
- Do you feel that you have a stereotypic view of Christianity? Why or why not?
speak truth: the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8.20)