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“As you did it to the least of my brothers, you did it to me”

Jesus The homless

(Image Credit: Christian Post)

“As you did it to the least of my brothers, you did it to me”

Christchurch has been picked as a location for the now famous “Jesus the homeless” sculpture.  The piece, which depicts a hooded figure lying on a park bench whose identity is only revealed by crucifixion holes through his feet is over 2 metres wide and cast in bronze. It has already been installed in several locations across North America, including Toronto, Chicago and South Carolina. An anonymous Episcopalian benefactor has paid for an additional 12 European locations for the sculpture including the Vatican, where Pope Francis has blessed it. (Source Irish Times)

The Irish Times ran their own poll to canvass opinion on where the sculpture would be best located.  College Green (a known spot for people sleeping rough) and Molesworth Street (where John Corrie died just before Christmas) were among the contenders. Christchurch was chosen by organisers however, as it was seen as the spiritual centre of the city. 

Jesus The homless 2

Tim Schmalz meeting Pope Francis (Image Credit Daily

Tim Schmalz, a Canadian sculptor, devout Catholic and designer of the piece argues that it illustrates Christ’s message that a homeless person’s life, which many may take for granted, is as sacred, and as important as anyone else’s.  The sculpture has already prompted some controversy in its other locations most notably Davidson, an affluent parish in South Carolina, which donates heavily to its local church. In Davidson, local residents rang the police to inform them of a vagrant sleeping rough in the area, I guess this somewhat demonstrates Schmalz’s point to veer towards empathy instead of piousness.

In this writer’s humble opinion, I quite welcome the depiction.  I think it’s reminiscent of Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ” where the Roman soldiers who seize Christ are presented in 16th century armour (imagine the Romans dressed in modern day Garda uniforms and you have the idea).  A contemporary take on a classical idea to highlight the relevance of the message in a way people of that time could understand.  Caravaggio was trying to convey we all have the power to do evil, to betray, to act cowardly that we all have the potential to be characters such as Judas and the Romans. Similarly, the “Jesus the homeless” sculpture, places Christ in a contemporary situation, to illustrate a noble message, every person has an importance and a profound value to their life. 

The pace of our lives  seems to move faster and faster and we all can be forgiven for passing someone on the street in the hurry home but we should remember that they are indeed, someone in need of a home and of a reasonable existence. The sculpture is meant to engage us to think what we can do with how we organise our society to deal with the homeless issue in a real and indeed radical way.  

The “Jesus the homeless” sculpture is hoped to be unveiled on Christchurch’s grounds this Good Friday (April the 3rd).

jesus the homeless

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