Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, March 2

The righteous will answer him, “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or imprisoned and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
—Matthew 25: 37-40

Just the other day, I went to a museum. A beautiful, new post-modern structure, the building filled me with light as I walked through each of the galleries. But what happened in the Renaissance Gallery was a surprise I will never forget.

As I walked into the room, a room with red walls and heavily gilded frames, I immediately saw two women to my right. They were standing close to each other whispering. I wondered if something was wrong, their demeanor saying much about fear and confusion.

I approached them and expected to ask if they were ok, when I noticed what appeared to be a homeless man in the corner of the room. The figure was facing the wall, a huddled mass of clothing and humanity stretched along the wooden parquet floor. I heard the women saying, “Can you imagine! A man like that in here! Do you suppose we should call the guard? Just smell him?”

Before entering the museum, a friend had told me that a sculptor had installed various human figures throughout the facility. I knew that this seemingly homeless man was likely one of those installations. I walked over and saw that the face was clear acrylic, something like a mannequin from the local department store. I turned to the women, glanced at them, and then walked on. I didn’t know what to say. The women turned and walked out of the gallery mumbling, clearly agitated.

Standing in the gallery surrounded by the gilded frames I was at once aware that the painting just above the homeless figure was that of the Madonna and Child. The sculptor had placed the form of the homeless man so close to the baby Jesus. Yet in doing so, he likewise reminded us how far we are from the Kingdom.

“When did we see you hungry, thirsty or in prison Lord?”  It’s an easy question to overlook. But seeing a homeless man lying on the floor next to a renaissance painting of the baby Jesus brought the question to my lips. Now is the time to answer.

Open my eyes, O Lord, to your presence all around me.