by: Rabbi Frank Lowinger, Congregation B’rith Hadoshah[EDITOR: Rabbi Frank Lowinger wrote this article back in March of 2015 as a response to the erection of a new statue in downtown Buffalo. He explains: “‘Homeless Jesus’ was [written] in response to newly erected statue on display in downtown Buffalo depicting Jesus homeless and sleeping on a park bench. Despite the faulty premise of Jesus being homeless the Buffalo News story featured two prominent clergy citing Matthew 25 as the inspiration for the statue.”]
How fitting and proper it is to welcome the “Homeless Jesus” statue to Buffalo, New York. While this may serve to convey a public awareness to the plight of the homeless, I see another very relevant connection for this fine piece of art.
One can look to the very brief moment when Jesus was born in the environs of Bethlehem, but the real homelessness transpired when the people of Jesus, the Jewish people, were driven from their ancestral home by the Romans in 70 A.D.
In 1948, in the aftermath of the Shoah, the world witnessed the miraculous rebirth of Israel. Unfortunately however, Jesus again is homeless as his birthplace is again off limits to Jews, as it was relinquished to the Palestinian Authority in the hopes of peace. It would seem that at this hour of history, with the threats of militant Islam and the furtherance of Iran’s nuclear program, that the world seems bent on the homelessness of the Jewish people.
I fully concur with the Very Rev. W.H. Mebane, along with artist Tim Schmalz, because I too “see the irony when the words of that Gospel collide with the reality of modern life.” The words of Jesus, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” contextually speak of an end time event when the nations of the world will be judged for their treatment of “the least of these my brethren,” the Jewish people; and that’s the gospel truth.[i] [ii]
[i] Originally published by the Buffalo News, March 2015
[ii] “Homeless Jesus” image from WIVB video still, March 31, 2015