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Shutting Up for Jesus
(30th Sunday, Ordinary Time)

Bartimaeus would not
Be silenced
When the disciples
And others demanded
He be suppressed
For he knew
What many leaders
Had forgotten
That it is forced silence
That kills the spirit
Not sound
Even the noisy kind
* * *
For if we really
Paid attention to
Our history
We would discover
That it has always been
Too much obedience
Rather than protest
Or demands or
Even disobedience
That has caused
Most of our pain
* * *
But over the years
Again and again
Some leaders
Demand quiet
Weakened minds
Costing us dearly
In loyalty and faith
So much so
That one wonders
When it is they
Who want silence
Why we let them claim
God does too
As if there were
Still another beatitude
Revealing blessedness
To anyone
Who shuts up for

-- Fr. Michael J. Kennedy
Cedar Creek, Minn.

Cricket Concert

with a smug smile
of satisfaction
I slap the lid
on the mayonnaise jar
bound out the door
with my captive
and dump him
into the marigolds
where he can join
his cricket cronies
to fiddle the night away
and I can get some sleep
at last

-- Cecilia Slusser
Logansport, Ind.


All the long sunlit afternoon,
Working in his father’s shop,
The carpenter’s young son
Dreamed of going to Jerusalem,
Of life in all its fullness.
Did he divine a terrible travail
In the banging, banging, banging,
All the long sunlit afternoon,
Of hammer on nail, hammer on nail?

-- Joseph Awad
Richmond, Va.

Two Dark Eyes
(Jerusalem 1995)

Two dark eyes were piercing right and left at the corner
of our stone wall.
One could hardly notice the face and nose and mouth
and body because of the
Two dark eyes intensely searching right and left,
around the stony corner.

They were searching the trees and shrubbery, for other
eyes looking back,
Eyes above arms carrying arms, for keeping the youth
from his daily destination,
Keeping him from his place of work, from supporting his

It doesn’t seem right to have to evade the rifle
To make a living, for feeding your children, by
Building homes for the ones who hold the rifles.
Those eyes have seared their presence into my memory,
That early morning ritual, never to be forgotten,
Those two dark eyes wildly piercing right and left at the
corner of our stone wall.

-- Fr. William C. Casey
Greenville, Tenn.


When planting time is over
when the harvest has been stored
when the fields
are covered
with the frozen stubble
God the seed is planted --

When the aroma of spring is long gone
when the flowers of summer
have lost their bright petals
when all growing things
have been pruned
God the rose begins to grow

When the delicate egg shells of new life
lie scattered on the ground
when the fledglings have all learned to fly
when the proud parents
have all flown south
God the feathered wing hovers over frozen snow --

-- John Jackson
Maitland, Fla.

Rebekah’s Crucifixion Between Her Sons

And the opposites in her nature split into twins
and fought in her womb.

Esau become her nostalgia for safety,
Jacob her hunger for the unknown;
God predicted they would always be at odds.

Esau, more like his father or the girl she’d been
before her impetuous yes when the patriarch’s steward
slipped two gold bracelets on her wrist
and led her on the back of a camel from everything

Jacob, more like his grandfather Abraham,
who would kill his own son if God demanded it,
or like his mother who connived with him against her
to steal his twin’s birthright.

Rebekah was afraid, wished life could be simpler,
as before they were claimed by Abraham’s God
and the holocaust of love He expected.
She’d once loved Isaac like that,
thrilled when she first saw him in the wilderness,

but he would love her for the comfort she gave him
as he loved Esau for the game he shot for his favorite stew.

-- Karen Zealand
La Vale, Md.

1999 in POETRY

2000 in POETRY

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National Catholic Reporter, December 15, 2000