“they saw Christ in everyone”

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Christ of the Breadlines

By John Clifton

Fritz Eichenberg was a wood engraver famed for his illustrations in works of classical literature. He began creating images for the Catholic Worker movement newspaper after he met Dorothy Day at a conference in 1949. Day sought Eichenberg’s involvement so that the content of the paper could be understood by those unable to read. Eichenberg was a convert to Quakerism and he shared many of the principles held by the Catholic Worker movement, particularly the way that ‘they saw Christ in everyone.’[1] This perspective comes through very strongly in Eichenberg’s work, particularly in three of his images: Christ of the Breadlines, The Lords Supper, and Christ of the Homeless. If you find these images online, you can see there was a particular emphasis on how Jesus Christ was really present in those who have need. Day said: 

 

“He [Christ] made heaven hinge on the way we act toward Him in His disguise of commonplace, frail, ordinary humanity…that if these things were done for the very least of His brethren they were done to Him…because they are Christ” [2]

This perspective is something we adhere to at The Salvation Army and something I try to live out as a Christian. This certainly doesn’t mean we get it right all the time – far from it – but it compels me to think twice before I walk past someone who might need a listening ear or something to eat because I might just be walking past Christ-in-disguise.

[1] Eichenberg and Ellsberg 2004: 18

[2] Day 1945: 35

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