Six days later

With his introductory, Six days later,
Matthew follows Mark in sending us backwards
to his previous story;
with its talk of losing and finding one’s life.
A triumvirate of friends
accompanies their master up the mountain,
where the gentle swell of casual conversation
empties abruptly into a wave of light, awe and mystery.
Two glowing figures from their nation’s glorious past
emerge from among the rocks
to confer with the teacher,
while his companions look on, bewildered.
One of them, as clueless as his comrades,
feeling overwhelmed and useless,
offers his services in cubby-house construction,
before being rendered speechless,
as the luminous wave rolls into a cloud
of brightness that subsumes all other lights.
Not satisfied with dominating the visual realm
the cloud finds its voice
to declare the presence of a divine son,
and to command attention: Listen to him!
When he speaks of a discipleship
that deals with suffering, dying and rising,
and when he speaks of taking up crosses;
Listen to him!

© Ken Rookes 2014
Another poem for the Transfiguration can be found here.

But I say to you, love.

If we wear his name
and pretend to listen to his words,
then we know that we’re expected
to do a lot of loving.
The God he called Father?
Fair enough, once you get your mind around
the concept of an immanent Deity
whose nature is grace and compassion;
the loving becomes our response.
One another? Would appear to be do-able,
but there are still occasions
when one’s capacity for loving is tested.
Your neighbour, (as yourself)?
Meaning the people you meet and deal with;
creating emotional commitment
where none previously existed;
this certainly makes heavier demands
upon our limited supplies of love and goodwill.
Your enemies?
Here we rule the line on loving.
We are not alone: millennia of tradition
in the church, and the culture shaped by it,
have managed to set aside this teaching
as excessive, inappropriate and ill-considered.
Not to be taken literally.
But then, if you’ve really got a problem
with loving your enemies,
don’t have any.

© Ken Rookes 2014

But I say to you

Master rhetorician,
Jesus from Nazareth,
knew the primacy of the law
in the minds of the people
who ran religion in his country.
He felt the weight of the shadow
cast across a millennium
by Moses, knowing how his words
had sought to guide the nation
and to inform the lives of its citizens.
It was part of the deal with the Almighty,
constructing limits to bad behaviour,
and establishing righteousness
and justice as the preferred shapes
of national life.
“You have heard it said,’
he was wont to say, cleverly
grounding his teachings in the law,
“But I say to you;”
cunningly suggesting that there might be
a worthwhile idea/thought/action
that takes us beyond law.
He was also wont
to name that possible something
as generosity, forgiveness,
and love.

© Ken Rookes 2014

You are salt

The salt gives of itself,
accepting its modest part,
and knowing that its culinary duty
is not to dominate,
but to enhance.
Its freedom is generous,
it is there for the other;
as it imparts its saltiness.

The master gathers his followers;
calls them salt, at large upon earth.
The disciple pours out self
recklessly, to enhance the justice,
to build the peace; knowing that hope
is an elusive costly thing,
and that the apparently foolish vision
of a world seasoned and shaped by love,
was never imagined.

© Ken Rookes 2014