People react to homeless Jesus… your reaction?

by | Mar 1, 2014 | Poverty: Analysis and Responses | 4 comments

The opening sentence from a Huffington Post piece… “This ‘Homeless Jesus‘ statue has found a home after similar works were rejected from cathedrals in New York and Canada, but not all are welcoming it with open arms. The moving work by Timothy P. Schmalz has provoked diverse responses since being installed at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson, N.C.

Would you reject this work of art or the concept behind it? Read the rest of the story.

Rev. Doctor David E. Buck, the church rector, sees it as an evocative combination of beauty, art, and religion. “It’s Jesus representing the most marginalized of society,” he told NBC Charlotte. “We’re reminded of what our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to eliminate homelessness. Part of a faith commitment is to care or the needy.”

However, others think it is in poor taste. Cindy Castano Swannack called the police the first time she drove by the realistic bronze statue, explaining to NBC Charlotte, “I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood.” She protested, “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help.”

A plaque next to the sculpture reveals that it is displayed in memory of Kate MacIntyre, who died from cancer in 2007. The sculpture was inspired by the verse Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Schmalz’s website explains, “Inspired by Matthew: 25, this sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket the only indication that it is Jesus is the visible wounds on the feet. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench.”

Pope Francis was moved by the work when Schmalz presented it to him at the Vatican, praying over it and blessing it. The pope has made addressing the plight of the poor and needy a hallmark of his papacy.

Church member Chuck Dillman said, “if you’ve been through what I’ve been through,” telling NBC Charlotte that it brought him closer to God. Buck added, “I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want this.”

Shmalz told The Catholic Register that the sculpture was inspired, in part, by a homeless man that he saw lying on the ground before Christmas in 2011. He recounted that poignant moment during a previous interview with The Huffington Post, commenting, “My instinctive thought was, that is Jesus Christ. I just saw Jesus.”



  1. Quincy

    “…the Son of Man has no where to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

  2. Sara Howley

    Jesus is in glory, seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. His physical body is in Heaven.
    Isn’t it demeaning to His power, His glory, and the resurrection to set him up as a homeless person? Whatever happened to the RISEN Lord?
    Jesus may have been homeless at times when He was on Earth, but he is not homeless now. We should have the compassion of Christ when loving our fellow man, as Christ would, but we are not to view others as Christ. There is but One Lord and Saviour.

    • Beth

      It seems to me that Jesus indeed told us to see Christ in others, and to treat others as Christ. Matthew’s Gospel makes it pretty clear that we are to see the homeless, the hungry, the stranger as Christ:

      Matthew 25:34-40:
      Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
      naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
      Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
      When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
      When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
      And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

  3. Leonard Lomax

    Is there really any question who this woman’s real god is? Note the hypocrisy in the biblical quotation at the bottom of the page… It’s a waste of time to try reason with people like this, they are blinded by their self-importance and love of money, and deep at heart sociopathic.