One thing is lacking

Haiku for those who struggle to let go.

Running to Jesus,
he knelt: For life eternal,
tell me what to do?

Jesus answered him;
You should know what God commands;
do these things and live.

Teacher, since my youth
I have kept the laws of God.
Jesus looked with love.

One thing is lacking:
Go, sell what you own, and give
it all to the poor.

Then come, follow me,
your wealth will be in heaven;
you will know true life.

The man was dismayed;
his possessions were many,
he could not let go.

How hard it will be
for the wealthy to enter
the kingdom of God..

Camels will pass through
a needle’s eye easier.
The rich will struggle.

Who then can be saved?
Mortals cannot achieve it,
God makes it happen.

You who have left home
to tread the kingdom’s pathways
will be rewarded.

 

© Ken Rookes 2018

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Because: A Haiku Pair

The poor have little
because the rich are wealthy.
That’s the way it works.

The rich are wealthy
because the poor have little:
it works that way too.

 

© Ken Rookes 2016

How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.

The wealthy,
while offering ‘in principle’ support
for the concept of kingdom of God,
find the idea that God might want to direct
the ways that money is used
or disposed of,
somewhat disturbing.

Riches are from God, they assert;
our prosperity is proof enough
that we are virtuous and good.
The Lord would not have so blessed us
if it were otherwise.

With wealth comes responsibility;
we understand that,
and we take our obligations seriously.
Assistance must be provided
for widows and orphans;
the scriptures are strong on that point.
But the poor, as a category,
includes a range of people:
wastrels, profligates, intemperates and such,
not all of them deserving of our largesse.

When it comes to generosity,
it’s best to err on caution’s side.
A charitable trust, perhaps;
with appropriate tax benefits.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Today this scripture has been fulfilled . . .

Today this scripture has been fulfilled . . .

Part one.

Big call;
in front of his home crowd, too.
The mood appears to have been generous;
initially.
A more modest, “begins to be fulfilled,”
might have been more judicious;
but then, unlike the majority of his followers,
Jesus was never particularly cautious.
In most centuries
he would have been locked up
as a troublemaker, or a communist.
In 21st century Australia,
his middle-eastern appearance,
along with his gang of similarly disreputable types,
would have generated
a substantial ASIO file by now.
Not to mention his wild talk
of freedom for the oppressed
and good news for the poor;
a call to revolution if ever we heard one.
And then, as if that isn’t enough,
he goes and brings God into it!
Big call!
Who does he think he is?

Part two.

The teacher couldn’t leave well enough alone.
The crowd  were impressed;
initially
His incendiary manifesto
slipped through, apparently unnoticed.
It’s what happens in every generation;
so many miss the disturbing implications
of such radical and loosely labelled “good news.”
For the poor, – only if the rich
can embrace the liberty of letting go;
for the oppressed, – only if the powerful
decide that they can do without their privileges;
for the captives, – only if the fearful choose
to risk their hearts, take on compassion,
and trust in the healing qualities
of grace and freedom.
And for the blind, – only if the unseeing ones
can be persuaded to open their eyes
to see for themselves
the gathering wonder and shining hope.
But no; he won’t allow them to stay
in the comfort of their unlistening.
Before they can begin to get
even the smallest corner
of their collective crania around it all,
he provokes his native crowd
with the “no acceptance
in the prophet’s hometown,”
line.
Clever!
Who does he think he is?

© Ken Rookes 2013

Yes, two for the price of one, folks!
The gospel readings for Epiphany 3 and 4 overlap, so I thought I’d treat them as a pair.
Part one Epiphany 3, (Jan. 27), Part two Epiphany 4 (Feb. 3)

Good news for the poor

I am not poor. I have food enough
to satisfy any momentary hunger;
and clothes sufficient to cover my nakedness,
even, when occasion requires,
to allow me to look stylish.
I have a dwelling, mostly paid for,
modest by the standards of my community,
but providing generous
shelter, privacy and comfort.
I have ready access
to the energy resources of my planet
allowing me to travel, to be entertained,
and to keep me warm, or cool,
according to my needs.
I visit the doctor when I am ill,
and can purchase medicines
at an affordable price.
And with the money that I have left over
I have access to learning, information and art,
along with the time to indulge these things.
Good news for the poor, I imagine,
would see dignity preserved,
hunger assuaged,
health care provided,
and the deliverance of a tolerable standard
of shelter, education and security.
Good news for the poor, I imagine,
would see those of us who are rich
being persuaded to share
recklessly and hopefully
of our abundance.

Ken Rookes

The courage of generosity

She was not frightened;
the woman that Jesus spoke of.
He had looked on from a distance
as she dropped her unobtrusive coins,
two in number, small and copper,
into the large temple money box.
Was he able to hear
the soft clunking sounds produced
as they joined the pile of larger coins
in the treasury’s insistent receptacle?

The rich are calculating in their philanthropy,
lest their abundance be significantly diminished.
What does the law expect from me,
and how do I balance it against my other demands;
quite apart from my needs for comfort
and security in my old age?
How will this contribution look to my peers
as they surreptitiously glance
at the number and colour of the coins
as I make my offering?

The rich live with anxiety; their wealth
seldom delivers contentment or peace.
Any generosity that might have fed their hearts
is pressed by fear
to the borders of their being.

The widow in our story was poor, without savings
or pension; the coins, according to Jesus,
were all that she had to live on.
He concludes his story by offering her as an example
in a way that he never did with the rich.
Affirming her freedom and generosity,
he celebrates her courageous choice
to trust in God.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Needles and Camels

For a long time now
the rich have liked the church.
Across the centuries
they have accommodated themselves
to its structures, institution and power;
(it’s been mutual),
permitting the church its sphere of authority
while determinedly maintaining their own.
Striving after respectability and influence,
not to mention their reserved seats in heaven,
the wealthy have been generous
with their patronage, constructing
buttress, edifice and spire.
(To be fair, the poor
have paid for their share of gold-leaf,
stained-glass oaken beams and dressed stone, too;
more often than not, subsidising the rich.)
The affluent have joined the church’s boards,
sat in on its councils,
propounded their advice,
shared their expertise,
sought and given favours
and requested ecclesiastical blessings
upon their many enterprises.
Some suggest that the wealthy and powerful
are seen too much in the company
of presbyter and priest.

The rich, it must be said,
find Jesus bewildering.
They hear stories:
about the teacher quietly suggesting
to a virtuous man of means,
that his life would be greatly enhanced
if he sold all his stuff and gave it to the poor.
On another occasion the carpenter
outrageously asserted  that God and mammon
were incompatible masters;
and when he spoke of the unlikelihood
of camels squeezing themselves
through the eyes of needles,
the rich began to get the idea
that Jesus might not have been on their side.
Still, there’s always the church.

© Ken Rookes 2012