General,  World View

Sleeping Jesus

In the heart of Glasgow city centre, there is a life-sized bronze sculpture. It depicts the ‘Sleeping Jesus’. When you come round the corner and encounter the statue, the first reaction is often that it is an actual person sleeping there on the bench. A moment later, the viewer spots the stigmata – the wounds of the Crucifixion – on the feet of the sculpture and suddenly realisation dawns that this is, in fact, Christ – but it is Christ in the person of all those who are without a place to rest and for whom the streets have become home. Christ, too, knows what it is like to be homeless, rejected, despised.

You don’t have to walk very far along the same Glasgow streets to encounter a great many homeless people, for whom these streets are indeed home.

One of them is a lady called Karen, who I speak with when I am in town. For a variety of reasons, Karen is there every day and has no home of her own. She relies on the kindness of strangers to help her. But what she misses most is simple conversation. She says that a lot of people are kind toward her, but rarely stop and actually speak with her. It is as though giving her some coins removes any need to engage with her as a human being. She sometimes sees one of her siblings – but this person passes by without stopping and without speaking, even though they have noticed Karen. Most often, she tells me, passers-by remain just that – they pass by, almost as though they have not even noticed that Karen is there. She is one of many such people in this city and in every other city.

It seems to me that the statue of the ‘Sleeping Jesus’ is not simply a tribute of sorts to these people; it is a call to action, a reminder to every one of us that if we are able to do anything at all to help those in need, our common humanity obliges us to do so. That help may be financial – or it might be that we have the time to give our support and our services to the many homeless projects or ‘soup kitchens’ which exist in the cities.

But perhaps something far more basic and equally as vital, is to treat all these good people with the same courtesy and respect we would give to those dearest to us.

Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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