While entering a church in Milan, Italy, I looked to my right where there was a bench and what appeared to be someone sleeping. My first thought was that it was a homeless person who had stepped away from the cold and who had found a quiet place to rest. Upon further observation, I noticed that it was not a real person, but a bronze sculpture. My husband then pointed to his feet and asked me to take a look. Sure enough. There was a piercing on each of the feet, indicating that this was a sculpture of Jesus. Upon returning home, I found online that there are at least 100 copies of this sculpture, Homeless Jesus, on display worldwide. Why has this sculpture been so widely shared? What is it about the sculpture that makes people stop and think?
Below the sculpture is the verse: Matthew 25, which is part of several verses where Jesus said the following:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Those who see this sculpture cannot walk away without having some sort of emotional response. For me, it was a physical reminder of what we celebrate at Christmastime. Jesus chose to take on the form of a human man, to suffer all of the indignities and challenges that come along with that. And yet, Jesus was God! He chose to leave all the glories of Heaven to come to this earth to die in my place even though He was without sin. While on this earth, Jesus also modeled for us what it means to be a true servant. He showed respect for the outcasts of society and demonstrated true empathy and caring for them. He identified with them just as it says in the verses above. When we serve those in need, we are serving Jesus.
As we head into Christmas vacation, I encourage each of you to take time to ponder the true significance of what it meant for the God of the Universe to give up His position in Heaven to come to earth to serve us frail and needy human beings. And when we see people in need, I pray that we will be prompted to reach out to them in their need so that they can ultimately give glory to God because a child of His has obeyed His prompting to serve “the least of these,” for we are in reality serving Jesus Christ.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon C. Brobst, Director