Who will be the greatest?

Haiku for the competitive

Speaking quietly
Jesus taught his disciples
the things that must be.

Of the Son of Man
he spoke, about betrayal,
and untimely death.

It won’t be the end.
After three days he will rise.
They don’t understand.

They were arguing:
which of us is the greatest?
He made them ashamed.

Would you be the first?
Then you must become the last,
serving your comrades.

He placed a small child
in the middle of the group;
took it in his arms.

Welcoming children
is the thing you are to do;
so you welcome me.

When you welcome me
you welcome God; and take part
in God’s own being.


© Ken Rookes 2018


Which is number one?

Which is number one?
Haiku of the essential

Some Pharisees came
to ask another question;
to test and trick him.

Which is the greatest?
Of all of God’s commandments
which is number one?

No hesitation.
Love the Lord with all your heart,
and your mind and soul.

But wait now, there’s more:
You have to love your neighbour
like you love yourself.

Forget all the rest,
live according to love’s rule!
Nothing else matters

Good answer, Jesus.
With love, grace and forgiveness
the world is transformed.


© Ken Rookes 2017

But they were silent


They kept their mouths shut
naughty children caught out

I’m better than you,
more worthy,
with leadership qualities.

He gathered the silenced ones
together. All twelve.
Maybe even some of the others,
like the women.

Be the greatest, he told them.
The best at caring and loving,
the first among servants.
Be friends of children.

They still had nothing to say.
Not sure what he was getting at,|
but afraid to ask.


© Ken Rookes 2015

The greatest commandment

Any religion;
whichever myths have inspired it,
no matter how it connects its members
with divine spirit,
whatever its claims,
however it patterns its ritual
or intones its worship;
is an empty shell
if it fails to draw from its adherents
lives of creative generosity.

In the writings of a breakaway group
named for its reluctant founder;
the plethora of commandments
in the Hebrew scriptures
surrender their ground
to a pair.

The carpenter from Nazareth
spoke often of divine agape,
the source of all that is good and true.
His listeners were invited
to make their own fruitful responses,
to share the love.
He calls this costly agape stuff
the greatest of fruits,
and enacts it at every opportunity.
Love, along with her precious siblings;
generosity, forgiveness, peace, tears and hope,
provide the means, he assures us,
by which the planet
along with its diverse and wonderful creatures,
will find life.

© Ken Rookes 201

Your neighbour as yourself


We all heard the reports and the rumours.
It seems he was from Nazareth,
“Centre of intellectual enquiry
and religious education,”
we had joked among ourselves.
We went down together,
to the temple precinct, to see for ourselves.
We weren’t the only ones.
Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians,
and fellow scribes
keen to bring him down a notch or two.
My colleagues entered the fray
with great enthusiasm, but I stood back.
I watched, I listened.
I was impressed.
Amid the grunts and snorts of all the scoffers
he spoke confidently, with passion,
and seemed concerned for the truth.
After the others had finished,
and retreated, muttering,
to devise new riddles,
I stepped forward, and respectfully asked
him to name the greatest commandment.
He quoted two laws about love;
of our duty to God and to neighbour.
I heard the candour in his voice;
saw the joy in his eyes.
I smiled. We talked,
nodding our heads in agreement;
and he told me I was close
to God’s kingdom. I smiled again,
and let him have the last word.
I wasn’t looking for,
didn’t need his seal of approval,
but I took it.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Who will be the greatest?

Every four years

the Christians put aside

their differences to gather

at the Discipleship Olympics.

There they contend with each other

to determine who is the greatest.

The rivalry is fierce,

with acolytes punishing their bodies

and exercising their minds for many years

even to prove worthy of selection.

After days of contesting, measuring,

personal-best scores, fingernail finishes

and acts of heroism and sacrifice;

after countless stories of love,

devotion, triumph over adversity,

courage, heartache and disappointment,

winners are declared.

Flagpoles are readied, anthems are cued

and the victorious ones are called

to stand behind the podium

and await the invitation to ascend.

Before they can do so,

a group of children,

playful, unkempt and disorderly,

is herded before them.

The medals are presented

to the children, who play with them,

laugh, and take turns

in having their pictures taken.


© Ken Rookes 2012