On Good Friday, Christians around the world will reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This man was tortured, humiliated and nailed to a cross to die a most horrific death. According to Christianity, this man — who lived a humble life among the poor and powerless, with no earthly wealth — died to save us all.
In 2013, Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz created a life-sized bronze sculpture called “Homeless Jesus.” The sculpture depicts a homeless man lying on a park bench, shrouded in a blanket. The artist says it’s a depiction of Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” A reminder to take care of those in need.
“I want to make visible what is invisible,” Schmalz says.
Copies of the sculpture are installed in cities all over the world, including Dublin, Singapore and Washington D.C. It has even been blessed by Pope Francis and is on display at the Vatican.
Most recently, a “Homeless Jesus” sculpture was installed at the Community West Foundation in Westlake, Ohio. Community West is dedicated to helping other local organizations that provide basic necessities to Western Cuyahoga County’s most in need. In 2016, the organization distributed $2.2 million in grants to 62 local nonprofits, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Providence House and Family Promise of Greater Cleveland.
The statue is displayed outside Community West’s new office building at 800 Sharon Drive, Suite C, in Westlake. All are welcome to visit the statue; you can even have a seat on the bench next to “Homeless Jesus.” According to the artist, “I deliberately left a little bit of the bench so that you can sit, uncomfortably, beside it.”
This work of art is a reminder that Jesus wasn’t too proud to live among the poor and homeless. In fact, he was one of them.
“Homeless Jesus” could be anyone. It’s not until you look closely that you see the nail holes in Jesus’ feet. So look closely at those around you, even the homeless man on a park bench; you will likely see someone worth helping. Regardless of spiritual views and beliefs, this artwork may inspire you to look into the eyes of the homeless, see past outward appearances and realize this could be you.