I missed writing on Monday this week, but last night as I was trying to settle into sleep, the idea came to me that Jesus was a homeless migrant from the Middle East. Would he be turned away? Then this morning I turned on the radio to hear about a sculpture of a homeless Jesus, installed on a park bench near a church in Indianapolis. I went to the website for Here and Now and found a picture. Here’s the link:
The pastor of a Methodist church that had purchased the sculpture said that people respond to it in different ways. Some just walk past; some walk around it, looking carefully; some complain that the money should have been spent feeding the poor.
He said the purpose was to raise awareness. At first, it appears to be a bundle of something on the bench. Then you see that there is someone inside. Then you see the feet sticking out with marks from the crucifixion. It’s that moment of recognition that is intended to make people think.
It is so radically different from images of Jesus on the cross, or Jesus with the children, or Jesus with the sheep. For me it raises the question, “What if we treated everyone as Jesus? “ Pope Francis has been challenging Christians to refocus attention on the poor. In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus told his followers that when they feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, care for those who are naked, sick, or in prison, they are doing it to Jesus.
Quakers throughout our history have been involved in these caring activities, whether or not they consider themselves Christian. But there is more. What if we truly walked our talk and sought to answer that of God in everyone? What would we do differently?