Monday, March 3, 2014

The Homeless Jesus (Timothy Schmalz)

Dear Friends,

The Son of God opened last Friday at a theatre near you, the latest version of the life of Jesus Christ. I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t speak about it as one who has. I plan to, for the sake of talking with parishioners who will also see it. The film producer Mark Brunett  is quoted in last Friday’s Democrat and Chronicle ,pointing out that “people now more than ever feel ‘a big desire for Jesus‘ and the ‘need to reconnect.’”  Do you?

Then there is The Homeless Jesus, a life size bronze statue of a homeless man, lying on his side on a bench, apparently sound asleep. There’s room on the bench to sit next to him. The first time you notice the man is Jesus is when you see his uncovered feet which bear the holes of the nails. The sculpture is the work of artist Timothy Schamlz. Find him and his work on the net. Do you know this Jesus?

Which of these art forms draws you to God? Neither? Both?  Something  else? The liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil are worship , that’s true. But they also embody the artistic. Do they draw you to God?

My hope for your Lent and mine is that we use Lent as a time to draw near to God, become intimate with God, using whatever biblical, cultural, life tools are at our disposal.

Intimacy is a word we either like and use, or we don’t. If we don’t like it, it may be because the word “intimacy” has some negative connotation in our minds, e.g. illicit sexual relations or familiarity with a crime. But in its best meaning, intimacy is characterized by friendship or pronounced closeness, and it’s in this sense that we can talk about intimacy with God.

Intimacy with God is not something we have to create. It exists as soon as we exist. Our life’s work is to discover  or rediscover it.

“You are more inside me than my most intimate part,” Saint Augustine wrote. “You are the interior of my interior.”

Not me, you say.
I’m not good enough, valuable enough, important enough.

We want to run away, and sometimes we do.

But God says to us, over and over again:
I’m here.
I love you.
I want you.
Will you walk toward me even as I run toward you?

Why is it so hard to move toward God?

Maybe this is the work of Lent this year, to move toward  God . In order to do that work, we need to remember a couple of things:

•We don’t have to find God. God is always in touch with us,
even when  we don’t want to be in  touch with God.
•We don’t need to be wordy with God.  Think about the times when you and a loved one are in the car together,not talking but aware of each other. “Being  with” is all that’s needed.

This Lent, pray, fast, give alms, as you have, perhaps, done for many years already.
But this year, let these important practices come from a heart deeply in touch with God, a heart deeply attuned to God, a heart  intimate with God.

This year, sit with the homeless Jesus on the bench. Touch His foot. Make your commitment to Christ then and there.
~Joan Sobala, SSJ