The righteous

consists not so much
in keeping oneself free from
all manner of sin and impurity,
(although this could be a consequence for some),
but in living in ways that are governed
by divine principles
of generosity and love.

The sort of foolish care
that treats prisoners with dignity,
recognises strangers as fellow pilgrims,
and offers food, clothing and water
to the least among the forgotten.

The kind of reckless defiance
that befriends the embarrassing,
confronts institutional cruelty and fear,
and supports the claims
of the homeless and the refugee.

The improbable commitment to one’s neighbour
that builds community, creates hope
and strives towards justice.

These, the parable tells us,
are the things that determine
who is truly righteous.

© Ken Rookes 2014


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