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Christianity is Not an Ornament


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 02/11/2014 -

‘Christianity Is Not an Ornament,’ says creator of controversial ‘Jesus the Homeless’ Sculpture.  Even though some Christians feel that the image of Jesus as a homeless person is offensive, the artist believes it’s a clear representation of the Gospel message. The life-size bronze sculpture depicts Jesus Christ as a homeless person sleeping on a park bench. Earlier this year, a woman called the police fearing for the safety of her upscale community after believing that the statue was a vagrant sleeping outside St Alban’s local Anglican church. Cindy Castano Swannack, the woman who had called police, said that even after she discovered the person she saw is only a sculpture of Jesus depicted as a homeless person, she further commented that the image is offensive. “Jesus is not a vagrant; Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy,” Swannack asserted. Christian artist Tim Schmalz, who created the “Jesus the Homeless” sculpture after witnessing the enormity of homelessness in wealthy cities answered that Swannack is not alone in her criticism. “When some people look at it — and I’ve heard comments — they’ve expressed that it creeps them out. And they ask, ‘How can you represent Jesus like this?’” Schmalz explained. When he was in Rome, he presented Pope Francis with a bronze model of “Jesus the Homeless,” he said that he thought about Mother Theresa and her emphasis on Jesus wearing many disguises, as the sick and the marginalized. He further commented that he sees people’s reaction to the piece as a cultural expression of “the value we place on people.” “This sculpture is not an ornament,” he asserted. “Some people say it frightens them. But I’m glad about that, because Christianity is not an ornament. Many people are used to putting their faith in a specific compartment of their life and bringing it out like something that can very much comfort them… This sculpture is for the marginal-ized people, so that when they come by it on a city street and they see the Son of man looking a lot like them, I think it will give them back something. And that’s part of the power.”

Lukas says:

I’m absolutely paralysed by this sculpture! I LOVE IT. We do forget too many times that He is especially in the poor and in children – the smallest and the defenseless. I really regret that I haven’t seen it yet. He Himself said that if someone accepts one of those, it will be acceptance of Him, God. We should be more sensitive and open-minded in everyday life. I believe that this is the Christian, universal approach.

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