Homeless Jesus Has No Home

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus described himself as homeless.

But apparently a couple of Roman Catholic churches in Toronto missed that verse.

According to their administration ‘Homeless Jesus’ is just too controversial.

That sounds about right.

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Sculpture of Jesus the Homeless Rejected by Two Prominent Churches

By Leslie Scrivener, The Star

Jesus has been depicted in art as triumphant, gentle or suffering. Now, in a controversial new sculpture in downtown Toronto, he is shown as homeless — an outcast sleeping on a bench.

It takes a moment to see that the slight figure shrouded by a blanket, hauntingly similar to the real homeless who lie on grates and in doorways, is Jesus. It’s the gaping wounds in the feet that reveal the subject, whose face is draped and barely visible, as Jesus the Homeless.

Despite message of the sculpture — Jesus identifying with the poorest among us — it was rejected by two prominent Catholic churches, St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

“Homeless Jesus had no home,” says the artist, TimothySchmalz, who specializes in religious sculpture. “How ironic.”

Rectors of both cathedrals were enthusiastic about the bronze piece and showed Schmalz possible locations, but higher-ups in the New York and Toronto archdiocese turned it down, he says.

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  • Jon

    Was Jesus homeless by today’s standard?

    Although he did not have a home, the Bible mentions Judas as taking care of the money and it is not a stretch to say that Jesus had a job (evangelist) and him and his disciples provided for themselves.

    I can’t remember where in the Bible Jesus begged for food, on the contrary he was a skilled craftsman.

    Was Jesus destitute as the sculpture alludes? Or was he a humble and modest traveling teacher?

    I’m all for showing compassion to the homeless and raising awareness about helping the lesser of society. Everyone is just a few decisions or a few turn if events away from being homeless. I commend the artist for bringing awareness but can also understand that the sculpture is a but controversial as it portrays a Jesus that did not exist.

    • ZackHunt

      Jon,

      I’ve got to respectfully disagree a bit. Judas did take care of money, but as we see in the anointing with perfume scene, a lot of that money seems to have gone to caring for the poor. I would say it is a stretch to say Jesus had a job. His de facto rabbi gig wasn’t a paying one as far as I’m aware of, certainly not comparable to a modern evangelist who gets paid for a speaking/preaching gig. The disciples did provide for themselves to some extent, but they also relied heavily on the generosity of others. Finally, I think the Jesus was a carpenter stuff gets played up way too much. There’s nothing in scripture or ancient Christian tradition that I’m aware that says anything about Jesus deriving an income from carpentry. Yes, Joseph was a carpenter and Jesus may have been one too before he started his ministry, but that ministry seems to have been a full-time gig according to the Gospels.

      All that to say. Not every homeless person today is on the street corner begging for food. Many of them are searching (fruitlessly) for jobs. Some of them have jobs, but don’t make enough to pay rent, let alone a mortgage. So, they rely on others – churches, charities, etc. – to provide them with clothes, a bed to sleep in, food to eat. That’s pretty much the picture we get of Jesus in the gospels. Sure, he may not have spent his time holding a “will work for food” sign on the street corner, but neither do most homeless people today.

      -Apologies for the mini rant, but you touched a sensitive spot in my soul. :)

  • Jon

    “Judas did take care of money, but as we see in the anointing with perfume scene, A LOT of that money seems to have gone to caring for the poor.”

    Exactly, Jesus and the disciples had enough money and had given enough money to the poor, that in that same scene, Jesus had no problem with the expensive perfume being used to anoint his feet and not to be sold to help the poor. This is not because it is not good to help the poor but because so much had been given already and there was a higher purpose for the perfume.

    ” I would say it is a stretch to say Jesus had a job. His de facto rabbi gig wasn’t a paying one as far as I’m aware of, certainly not comparable to a modern evangelist who gets paid for a speaking/preaching gig.”

    How can you possibly come to this conclusion, except that you want to come to that conclusion? Jesus received money the same way the church does today, by donations. This was in the form of food, money, clothes, shelter, perfume, you name it, but they received donations because they were ministering, healing, performing miracles, and had the words of eternal life. Also, based on the amount of time spent in boats around the Sea of Galilee, I find it no far stretch to think that they fished to feed themselves and make some money too.

    “There’s nothing in scripture or ancient Christian tradition that I’m aware that says anything about Jesus deriving an income from carpentry. Yes, Joseph was a carpenter and Jesus may have been one too before he started his ministry, but that ministry seems to have been a full-time gig according to the Gospels.”

    I agree that once Jesus entered ministry he was no longer doing carpentry, but christian tradition and most historians ascribe to the theory that Joseph is seldom mentioned after the infancy narratives because he most likely died while Jesus was still relatively young, and I would say most of those same traditions and scholars would hold that Jesus provided for his family in his father’s stead by carrying on the trade his father taught him. He started his ministry when he was 30, so that is a lot of carpentry that he did and probably saved some money/resources from.

    We have to remember that Jesus lived in this world. He was a baby, raised as a child, he played tag and hide and seek and whatever other childhood games they played. As an adult he lived for about 20 years before starting his ministry (adolescent age to ministry start being about 20 years). He interacted with our world and entered into it, not as a purely mystical creature, but as Fully God and Fully Man,. Since he was fully man, he fully experienced and participated in life. The image of him sleeping on a park bench, waiting for a handout, looking for work, struggling to find his niche in life, is not how the Bible portrays him and why I understand the controversy behind the statue. Jesus, although a nomadic traveling type and thus homeless, was not the sleep on the bench, trying to find his place in this world type. This is not to take away from the caring of the homeless that we are called to do. I fully embrace that, I sympathize with the homeless, I have been in difficult situations myself and have relied on the generosity of others. I get it, I just do not see that Jesus had that experience to the extent that this sculpture is trying to depict. The sculpture is making a political/social statement, that although noble, is not an accurate portrayal of Christ.

    I see far too often in Christianity that we read into the Bible what we want it to say. We find things that are not really there based on our own prejudices no matter how noble. I think that is what is happening here.

    Counter Rant concluded ;)

  • Jon

    I also wanted to just say, that I personally like the statue, I don’t think art has to be historically accurate all the time, and I believe the message is noble and one that needs to be preached today in light of the prosperity gospel and the gross secularism of our society. My argument is based purely in the light that this shows the historical Jesus, which I believe is a stretch, and I also understand why it is controversial, and why a church chose not to have it on their grounds. As the artist said in the article, it is meant to reach out to the secular world, and it obviously is bringing awareness to the homeless which is a great thing.

  • http://twitter.com/semiotheque semiotheque

    I just want to point out that your framing at the top of the article is a little misleading: you write that “a couple of Roman Catholic churches … missed that verse” but the article states that the parishes themselves were interested in the statue (indeed, “enthusiastic”) and it was their archdioceses which instructed them to stay away.

    I don’t wish to say that the actual situation is in some way _better_, just that it’s _different_ than the lede suggests.