CLEVELAND — A familiar piece of art featured in the Matthew 25 Sculpture Collection titled "Homeless Jesus" returns to the Greater Cleveland area with five additional statues to spark a deeper conversation with these four letters: WWJD.
“I just had an epiphany that I just saw something very spiritual,” said Matthew 25 Collection sculptor Timothy Schmalz.
For those wondering, "WWJD" stands for What Would Jesus Do.
It’ s a question Timothy Schmalz, who’s the sculptor of this collection, is challenging the community to answer.
“Throughout the process, my design, my sculpture completely conformed to a passage or scripture, Matthew 25,” said Schmalz.
In short, the passage talks about visiting people when they are sick and in prison, clothing the naked and helping those who are hungry and thirsty.
“Unlike historically any other religion, here in Christ, God in a sense comes down and says that when you help the most marginalized people in society, you are helping me. That is me,” said Schmalz.
It's a vision Schmalz has brought to life in this piece, called the Matthew 25 Sculpture Collection.
“The inspiration for the principal piece of the homeless Jesus was being in a major city and seeing in the middle of the day, a figure, a human completely covered in a blanket,” said Schmalz.
Schmalz wanted others to connect with what he saw, so he created one life-sized sculpture portraying Jesus sleeping on a park bench.
Then, Bay Village received a temporary installment of this statue, which went viral two years ago after someone called police to report a homeless person.
“That became the viral moment but gave us the impetus to permanently install the real statues so that these awareness-raising pieces of art would be seen by everybody,” said Community West Foundation President and CEO, Marty Uhle.
Now after nearly two years, Uhle says six sculptures, including Homeless Jesus, are on display, making Cleveland the second city in the world, after Rome, Italy to host the full collection.
“There are six different opportunities to be reminded during the day to be charitable and that your brothers and sisters are sacred, and they need your protection. They need your help,” said Schmalz.
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