Jesus the Homeless | Art for A Epiphany 5

Isaiah 58:7
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Jesus the Homeless
Timothy P. Schmalz
“Jesus the Homeless”
bronze sculpture

Click here for more about “Jesus the Homeless”

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Jesus the Homeless, Bronze, 2012, Timothy P. Schmalz, b. 1969
More information on the Artist’s Page

Art that was favored by the upper social class of Europe in the early nineteenth century had roots in classicism and romanticism. Paintings did not depict the life of farmers who were hunched over day after day working in the fields or the coal miners who lived and worked in hopeless conditions in Belgium. A few artists, known as “Realists” painted the lives of the poor but today, despite an awareness of poverty and homelessness throughout the world, the subject is seldom seen in the visual arts. The displaced victims of war are mentioned in the media occasionally but in wealthy nations the homeless are likely to be discussed as a “problem.” When people see them they tend to avoid eye contact and walk around them at a distance. It is easier to say the homeless are to blame for their own misfortune when no contact is made and their circumstances are not known.

One of the roles of sculpture throughout history has been to create an image that will represent the interests and values of a society. Sculpture often is intended to elicit such things as patriotism, nationalism, and religious fervor. It may be commissioned by governments to celebrate war heroes, leaders, events, or it may be simply enrichment to surroundings. The poor and homeless are not likely to be seen in sculpture intended to represent a group’s self image.

Sculpting monuments and memorials has been part of Timothy Schmalz’ life’s work and he has filled many commissions for churches. In general, his sculpture does not stir controversy. An exception is, “Jesus the Homeless” (shown above). This piece was the result of a direct personal experience and it differs in style and content from his usual work. On a winter’s day while in the City of Toronto, Canada, he saw a homeless man wrapped in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk while crowds passed by. It was the Christmas season and passersby were focused on their immediate priorities; the man on the sidewalk was ignored. When Schmalz saw the homeless man, Jesus’ words written in Matthew came to mind: “…I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” “…as you did not to one of the least of these, you did not to me.” (Mathew 25:31-46). Schmalz developed this scene into a provocative image of a homeless Jesus. Instead of being in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk, the man was placed under a blanket on a bench. At first glance, the sculpture does not seem to represent any specific person but then, as we see the uncovered feet, we notice the wounds from a nail that pierced them during crucifixion.

Hovak Najarian © 2014

The Son of Man has no place to lay his head

As they were walking along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

—Luke 9:57-58 (from the Gospel reading for Sunday, June 30, 2013)

The homeless Jesus sculpture leaves room for the viewer to sit on

Earlier this year the search to find a home for the “homeless Jesus sculpture” by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz was reported in both the “religious” and the “secular” press (in print and online). Eventually Regis College (a Jesuit school in Toronto, Canada) gave the sculpture a home.

From the Religion News Service report:

“To be a Christian sculptor, the analogy is preaching. If you have a great location for your sculpture, it’s like preaching to a large audience. If you have a bad location, it’s like preaching in a closet.”

The 7-foot-long artwork allows space for one person to sit near the feet of the Jesus figure.

“It’s a very uncomfortable seat,” Schmalz said.

Reporting by Newsy and the Huffington Post on the sculpture’s journey to Regis College.

Jesus the homeless

Ninth Day of Christmas: Mission to Seafarers

Mission to Seafarers

Some of you may remember Fr. Bob Crafts as the Rector of St. John’s in Indio. When he retired he moved back to San Diego and began a new ministry as a Chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers. As a diocese we support Fr. Crafts in prayer and practice as he provides ministry to those who sail the seas.    ~dan

Quote . . .Piracy, shipwreck, abandonment and separation from loved ones are just a few of the problems merchant seafarers face. Around the world, The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.2 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat.

As a Christian agency, we work in 250 ports caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through our global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers we offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services. (“About Us” on the Mission to Seafarers website)

Mission to Seafarers What We Do | Mission to Seafarers Home Page

The Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar in one place
About the Twelve Days of Christmas Calendar

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For further reflection

Did you know:

  • 90% of world trade is carried by the sea, providing work to more than a million seafarers.
  • 30 million people make a living by fishing.
  • The rate of suicide for international seafarers is triple that of shore workers, and they are 26 times more likely to be killed at work.
  • Shipping is a truly international industry: in today’s global market you might have a Greek-owned vessel, registered in Malta, with officers from India and a mixed crew from Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and the Philippines.
  • Piracy hit an all-time high in the first six months of 2011, with 266 attacks worldwide, up from 196 a year earlier, according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau. Of the 266 attacks, 60% were carried out by Somalia-based pirates.
  • Seafarers are among the most exploited and abused groups of workers in the world, yet their plight is barely recognised by the mainstream media and public opinion, says the ITF report, ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.

Source: Facts and Figures on the Mission to Seafarers website

Do you remember:

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34-36   

Advent Calendar Day 16: Episcopal Relief and Development

Episcopal Relief and Development

Just this past Lent we collected donations at St. Margaret’s and sent them to Episcopal Relief and Development to be added to their NetsforLife Inspiration Fund. Episcopal Relief and Development provides a way for all Episcopalians (indeed, all people of goodwill) to meet the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the ill-clothed, the one who is sick and the one who is in prison (see Matthew 25:37-40)

Mission Statement

“Healing a hurting world”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the compassionate response of the Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world. Hearing God’s call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being, Episcopal Relief & Development serves to bring together the generosity of Episcopalians and others with the needs of the world.

Episcopal Relief & Development faithfully administers the funds that are received from the Church and raised from other sources. It provides relief in times of disaster and promotes sustainable development by identifying and addressing the root causes of suffering.

Episcopal Relief & Development cherishes its partnerships within the Anglican Communion, with ecumenical bodies and with others who share a common vision for justice and peace among all people.

For more on this ministry: Episcopal Relief and Development
Learn more about the NetsforLife Inspiration Fund

Advent Calendar in one place
About the Online Advent Calendar

For further reflection

Help isn’t on the way. It’s already there

In 2010, Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 3 million people in over 40 countries around the world.

Rather than imposing “one size fits all” solutions, Episcopal Relief & Development supports unique local, long-term initiatives that address poverty, hunger, disease, economic development and disaster response.

Our partnership with the worldwide Church creates opportunities to serve communities in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as in urban environments where extreme poverty persists.

In many of these places, the Church is often one of the few institutions people trust and turn to for help. Episcopal Relief & Development leverages existing Church relationships to reach those whose need is greatest.

“Go with the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they have. Build on what they know. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, ‘We have done this ourselves’.”  — Lao Tsu, Chinese Philosopher, 700 B.C.

From: ERD What We Do. Check out even more information using their Quick Links section on the right side of the page

See also the ERD Blog AND/OR Stories from the Field to see how Episcopalians, working together, seek and serve Christ in the “least” among us. Hear what the Spirit is saying.

Image: ERD Logo from the ERD Media Center Online Press Kit

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