Gospel Poems

The Assistant Priest of St George the Martyr, Fr David Pape, regularly interprets the Sunday Gospel in poetic form. We hope to share this wonderful artistry with you on a weekly basis so please check back to see new additions.

Matthew 11.2-11

11 December 2016

“Are you the One who is to come
or should we seek another?
Is this the path to kingdom come:
it seems there is no other?
For I send disciples asking thus,
they risk their all for me.
So speak out true and speak out plain,
that’s all that I ask of thee!”

So Jesus said, “Go tell our John
of what you see and hear,
and blessed are those who welcome me;
who trust and do not fear!
Tell John, the blind receive their sight,
lame walk and lepers healed;
the deaf now hear, the dead are raised;
the Good News is revealed.”

And as Jesus sent a message back
he spoke to all the crowd.
He spoke with great authority,
addressing them aloud.
“What brings you to this wilderness –
a wind to shake a reed?
A prophet? Yes, and so much more,
who recognized your need!

Not to those in soft, fine robes,
who comfortably announce:
nor to those in stately homes,
in judgment they pronounce.
This is he, of whom it’s written,
the one who prepares the Way;
a messenger sent ahead of me
and foretells you of this Day!

Truly, I tell you, none higher than John,
has come here through womanly birth.
No one is greater, the Baptist, than he;
no one before him on earth.
He is the voice crying out on the wind,
to come and ‘Prepare Ye The Way’
Yet the least in the Kingdom is greater than he,
and he is no greater than they.

David Pape © 2016

Matthew 24.36-44

27 November 2016

“Who knows when the time will come?
Who knows the Father’s plan?
Not the Son, or heavenly host,
so why then mortal man?

As in the days of Noah,
so, with the Son of Man;
we’ll marry, eat and drink our fill
unconscious of the plan.

For not until the rains did fall
and Noah took to ark
people remained unaware
of torrents, deep and dark.

Two, they will be in the field,
but only one be taken.
Two women will be grinding meal,
yet one will be forsaken

You know not when the Day will come;
when the Lord will leave or take.
Stay alert and be aware,
be sure that you’re awake.

Had the owner of the house
kept up a cautious sight,
the robber’s actions, all in vain,
would not have won the night.

Likewise you must be prepared
that Day will come with power –
the arrival of the Son of Man
at an unexpected hour.

David Pape © 2016

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LUKE 21:5-19

13 November 2016

A crowd stood around the Temple in awe and took in the wondrous sight.
With jewels adorning the gleaming stone wall
As they shone like the stars of the night.

But Jesus then warned of such a day
when not one of the stones would stand;
and, where now a holy edifice stood,
would all turn to dust and to sand.

The crowd then asked ‘when will this be?
Oh when then, these fearful times?
Please tell us now that we might all see
and recognise some of the signs!’

“Beware of those who speak in my name: those who will lead you astray;
those who will say that the time it is near,
it is they who will show the wrong way!’

But do not have fear, when all that you hear
is of ‘war and of insurrection’.
These things must happen before the last days
these portents will show a direction.

Nations will fight and kingdoms war;
earthquakes and famine, and plague!
Heavenly signs, the most dismal of times,
but the clues they will not be as vague.

Before all of this, they will persecute you,
and for my name’s sake they will test you;
the synagogue leader, and scribes of the Law,
your king and your rulers arrest you.

Be strong on that day, stand; testify;
have faith and speak with my word;
the word of my wisdom they cannot withstand
nor challenge what they have heard.

Yet, for my name’s sake, they will hate you,
betrayal by ‘kith and by kin’
and some they will die and know of death’s taste,
and the hatred that others will bring.

Not hair on your head, will it perish;
have faith, trust in me and be whole.
You will not die, but live, I say –
endurance will gain you your soul.

David Pape © 2016

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LUKE 6:20-31

30 October 2016

The kingdom of God will go to the poor,
where those who are hungry will hunger no more.
Those who are weeping will cry no longer;
their joy will be found and their laughter stronger.

Blessed are those who hold to my name,
who experience loathing, hurt and distain.
Rejoice on that day, your reward will be great,
and share with the prophets also knew hate.

And so woe to those who are rich beyond need,
in the fullness of time they will pay for their greed.
Woe to those who consume far too much,
make much of this moment, for hunger will touch.

Woe to those who laugh without care;
soon you’ll know mourning, grief and despair.
Woe to those who seek after praise,
like those who were false in our ancestor’s days.

Embracing your enemy, do good to your foe,
bless those who curse you and let your love show.
And if they should strike you or slap at your cheek,
offer the other and show you’re not weak.

If they take your coat, then give them your shirt,
give alms to the poor and cast off all hurt.
Cast off possessions, do good, have no shame,
and pray that all others will treat you the same.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 17:5-10

2 October 2016

The apostles then looked to the Lord
and vocalised with one accord,
“Increase our faith!” they all did cry
and, once again, our Lord did sigh.

“With faith the size of a mustard seed,
for surely that is all you’d need,
you’d tell this tree, ‘take heed of me;
be off and planted in the sea!’

A hard-worked slave, when day is done,
which of you would be the one
to say, ‘Now come, sit at my table,
eat and drink of all you’re able’?

But rather then, would you not say,
‘Don your apron, don’t delay!
Serve me while I drink and eat,
then later you may take your seat!

Do you even thank your slave?
Is this how you would behave?
Knowing what you have demanded
and doing all that was commanded.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 16:19-31

25 September 2016

Dressed in finest linen
and kingly purple cloth
everyday’s a banquet
with lots and lots to scoff.

A poor man nam’ed Lazarus
lay at the rich man’s gate,
and hungered for a morsel
of what the rich man ate.

And even dogs licked at his sores
and Lazarus, he died.
The angels came and carried him off
to be by Ab’ram’s side.

Soon after that the rich man died;
his earthly life had ended;
and, buried in the usual way,
to Hades, he descended.

Tormented in that fiery heat,
he looked and he espied
the loving Father Abraham,
with Lazarus by his side.

‘Have mercy, Father Abraham!’
He called and made his plea.
‘Let Lazarus dip his finger,
bring some water close to me.

Let him dip his finger
and cool my burning tongue,
to ease the agony I have,
I need to have this done!’

And Abraham, he did reply,
‘Recall your worldly life –
whle you had all the good things,
Lazarus had the strife.

But now he lives in comfort,
and you in agony,
and see the yawning chasm
between both us and thee.

The chasm is impassable,
each way, there is no breach;
us to you, or you to us –
forever out of reach.’

But the rich man made another plea
five brothers, still alive!
Hoping Abraham would send
and help them to survive.

‘They’ve Moses and the prophets,
So they should listen hard.’
But the rich man knew their weaknesses
and tried another card.

‘No, you must send a dead man –
then they would relent;
someone from beyond the grave;
then they would repent.’

Abraham just looked at him
and then he sadly said,
If they deny the ones I send,
they won’t listen to the dead!

David Pape © 2016

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Matthew 3:1-12

04 December 2016

The Baptist appeared in the wilderness
and cried out for all to repent.
‘The kingdom of heaven is close at hand’,
for this, the forerunner was sent.

‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’ he cried
‘and let all His paths there be straight’
as spoke of the prophet, Isaiah,
the people had ended their wait.

John, he came clothed in camel’s hair,
a leather strap tied ‘round his waist.
His food was both locust and honey,
while the people all flocked with great haste.

The people poured out from Jerusalem,
from the Jordan and much of Judea,
they came to the desert confessing their sins;
he baptised all those who came near.

But espying the pious, the rich, worldly-wise,
came a sight that clouded his mood.
He asked who invited this unwelcome pack?
Who called on the viper’s dark brood?

“Do not presume on a welcoming host,
just because you’re of Abraham’s kin!
Do not expect to rest on your laurels,
seek the fruit of repentance within.

For God can take these scattered cold stones
and change them to Abraham’s sons
do not rely on your ancestral tree
and claim you’re the ‘Chosen Ones’.

Look, at the axe is lying there,
it’s poised to strike the root.
The fire burns the twisted branch;
and destroys all the rotting fruit.

I baptise with water, clear,
but soon is the time that will come;
another with great potency –
a great and a powerful one.

I, unworthy, that I am,
unfit to loose the thong
of the dusty and well-worn sandal,
the shoe that he walks upon.

And He will baptize for all time
with the Spirit and also with flame:
He will clear the threshing floor –
and the chaff will not remain.

He will winnow out the husks,
and cast in fiery furnace heap.
He will gather in the good grain
and store it secure in his keep.”

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 23.33-43

20 November 2016

They came to Golgotha, the ‘Place of the Skull’,
as the day shed its fast-fading light.
They hung our dear Lord with two villainous thieves,
foul felons, to left and to right.

“Father, forgive them!” he cried through the pain,
“They know not what they do.”
As soldiers cast lots for his leftover clothes,
Spectators bustled on through.

And the people stood mocking and scoffing at him.
“If you’re the Messiah, come down!
If you are ‘The Chosen’, step down from the cross
and take off that sharp, thorny crown!”

“King of the Jews!” the soldiers mocked,
“Come now, and show us your power;
come share of the wine that we offer up,
though its taste may be bitter and sour.

Save yourself, you ‘King of the Jews’
See! Look! We’ve made an inscription!
In scripts, so full, that the people may know
and recognize our full description!”

Then one of the felons who ‘hung’ with the Lord,
derided and scoffed in his hate.
“If you’re the Messiah, then save yourself
and save both of us from this fate.”

But the other rebuked him, “Have you no fear of God?
We’re guilty and we have no cure!
But this man is innocent, this man is good,
this man is holy and pure.

Remember me, Jesus, when you enter your realm;
this, in my passing, I pray.”
Then Jesus spoke gently, “Know you’ll be with me,
know you’ll see Eden today.”

David Pape © 2016

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LUKE 20:27-38

6 November 2016

Some Sadducees then questioned him about the resurrection
‘Moses wrote a law for us, for we all need direction.

Moses said that if a married man should die and leave no heir or kin,
a brother should then take his wife; a brother should step in.

Now a man with seven brothers dies, the widow married his brother,
but, sadly too, this brother died so then she took another.

Then ‘number three’ he came and went, as did ’four’ and ‘five’;
then the sixth, and then the last, till none were left alive.

Then finally the widow died – no more earthly toil,
with no more worldly drudgery she shed her mortal coil.

So, in the resurrection then, whose wife will she be?
If you are who you say you are, then answer this for me!

Jesus answered, ‘In this age, a man and wife are wed,
but in the age that is to come, this concept is all dead.’

Marriage is no more’ said he. ‘We’re changed from what we know,
‘resurrection’s children’ now, like ‘angels’ to and fro.

Moses himself confirmed the fact that those who die are raised,
when speaking to the burning bush, in those long and far-off days.

He spoke of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob too;
he spoke of them as if they lived, In God, he clearly knew.

The Lord’s no Ruler of the dead, but those who are alive,
and they who win God’s sure reward, eternally survive.’

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 18:9-14

23 October 2016

Jesus told a story
to self-righteous and to vain,
who regarded others with contempt
verbalising their distain.

“Two men went up to the Temple –
both of them to pray.
One a pious Pharisee,
who boasted ‘bout his way.

The other went up quietly
knowing shameful facts
he recognised his wretchedness;
a collector of the tax.

The Pharisee said, ‘I thank God
I’m not like others here –
adulterers and thieves and rogues,
but I’ve no need of fear!

Twice a week, I’m fasting
I pay one tenth in tax,
And, unlike this sinful man,
God knows I am not lax.

The taxman standing far off;
could barely raise his eyes.
He beat his breast, and cried to God;
his sin, he recognised.

‘Show mercy to me, a sinner;
my guilt I cannot hide’,
yet his burden was then lifted
he went home justified.

And Jesus saw the people,
with many an eyebrow raised.
Once more, he spoke with authority
and offered a final phrase.

“Those who are proud and exalt themselves
will be humbled all their days.
But those who sincerely humble themselves
will know exaltation and praise”.

David Pape © 2016

JOHN 6.25-35 (Harvest Gospel)

2 October 2016

And then the crowd they found him
on the other side of the sea,
asking, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
and “How can these things be?”

“Very truly, I tell you,
that you have sought me out
because you’ve had your fill of bread,
you follow, but in doubt.

Do not work for the food that spoils,
but food that will endure,
given by the Son of Man
on whom God placed his cure.”

And puzzled by the words he spoke
they called, “Be more exact!
How do we do the work of God;
please tell us how to act?”

“This is the work of God –
this is what I meant;
Believe in God the Father
and the One that he has sent.”

“But what sign will you give us
to awake our kin’s belief?
Moses gave God’s manna,
their hunger found relief!”

“T’was God that gave you heavenly bread,
not Moses, as you’ve said;
the Father gives you bread from heaven –
the true and living bread.

God gives the bread that feeds the world,
that helps you through your days.”
The people said in loud accord,
“Give us this bread always!”

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 16:1-13

18 September

“A rich man had a manager
to ‘oil the financial wheels’,
but some accused that manager
of making dodgy deals.

‘What’s this I hear about you,
going on behind my back?
For if the rumours all are true
I’m giving you the sack.

The manager, he did ponder
and wondered what to do –
too proud to beg, too weak to dig,
too old to start anew.

He had a plan to help him
and keep him off the street
A plan to keep his ‘good name’
and keep his neighbours sweet.

So summoning a debtor
he asked, ‘How much d’you owe?’
‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’
‘Make it fifty – now pay and go!’

Another spoke of what he owed,
a hundred sheaves of wheat.
‘I’ll change your debt to eighty,
now, clear off from the street!’

Yet when the rich man heard about
these methods, rough and crude,
he praised his former manager
for being very shrewd.

The children of this current age,
in cunning, show their might,
and better show their wily ways
than children of the light.

But those who deal in tainted cash
must try to do their best,
and, when the money’s all run out,
must finding eternal rest.

Those you can trust in little,
are those you can trust in all;
but trusting in dishonesty,
you’re heading for a fall.

With crooked deals in dirty cash,
there’s no one who will trust
or count on you for good things,
even when they’re just.

No slave can serve two masters;
don’t even contemplate!
For one, you will love dearly;
the other, you will hate.

You cannot serve God and mammon
and maintain your spiritual health.
You can’t get away with serving both;
you can’t serve God and wealth.”

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 14:1, 7-14

28 August 2016

And on that blessed Sabbath day,
he dined for all to see;
Invited by the rich and wise,
the host a Pharisee.
And noting as each guest sat down,
they’d choose the higher places
hoping other guests would see
they filled the honoured spaces.

So many looked upon him then,
their eyes inquisitive,
as their attention turned to him;
and the tale he had to give.
“Do not take the honoured seat,
though worldly-wise you be –
the host might have another guest
more suitable than thee.

You’re asked to move to lower seat,
and seeing your red-face,
others, winking knowingly,
will relish your disgrace.
Go then, take the lowest place
at which to eat and sup.
The host will quickly come and say,
‘Friend, now move on up!’

And, moving up, the guests will see
the host respects your status –
the proud will stir and you will cause
a whispering hiatus!
For those who would exalt themselves
are heading for a fall;
but those who choose the humbler place
will, in the end, stand tall.”

Then Jesus took his host aside
saying, “when you plan to dine,
don’t invite your brothers, friend,
the famous, rich or fine;
for all of them can pay their way
and obligations met,
they’ll invite you in return
and put you in their debt.

Invite the poor, the lame, the blind,
the crippled, those who grieve,
and in your kindliness to them
a blessing you’ll receive.
Gladly lift the lowly up –
those who can’t repay.
The Lord will fully reimburse you
on the judgment day.”

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 1.46-55

My soul, it amplifies the Lord,
my Saviour hears my cry!
You put away my lowliness
and lifted me up high.

Generations will call me bless’d;
the Mighty One great things have done.
Hallowed be your Name in time,
whilst endless ages run.

Your mercy is on those who fear
and those who cried aloud.
You show the strength of your strong arm
and scatters all the proud.

You oust the tyrants from their thrones
and brings the poor true bread.
Those who are full are sent away –
the hungry, they are fed.

Your people see your mercy shown –
for love is your endeavour.
Abraham and all his line
see a promise kept forever.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 15:1-10

11 September 2016

Sinners and taxmen would all come close
to harken to what Jesus taught.
The scribes and the Pharisees grumbled aloud,
‘An audience of the wrong sort!’

“He welcomes the sinners and those who do wrong;
those who would shamefully dabble.
He eats and he drinks with the rough and unclean
and mixes too well with the rabble!”

On hearing their hardness of heart he spoke up,
to answer their words and their thought,
and plainly, to deal with their self-righteousness,
this is the lesson he taught.

Which of you, owning one hundred sheep,
in finding that one went astray,
would not leave the many to fend for themselves,
and search for the lost one all day.

And in finding the wayward one crying for help
then who would not want to give voice?
Who would not want to raise shoulder-high
and cry to the good Lord, ‘Rejoice!’?

Who would not call upon friend or to neighbour
to share your good fortune around?
‘The sheep which had strayed to a hostile place
was lost, but now it is found!’

I tell that there will be more joy in heaven
When one who is sinful repents;
More joy than when there are ninety-nine righteous
who have never relied on offence.

What woman in having ten silver coins
and, in losing one, does not seek to find
then lighting a lamp, and sweeping the house
puts all else to the back of her mind.

And when it is found she’ll call to her neighbours
and in their rejoicing resound
‘bout the coin that caused much consternation –
it was lost, but now it is found.

So, instead of derision you ought to find joy,
if one, who was sinful, repents.
for the angels of God in rejoicing aloud;
their elation is truly intense.

LUKE 13.10-17

21 August 2016

Now, teaching in the synagogue
upon the Sabbath day,
a woman bent with crippled gait
came to pass his way.
The ailment she had carried
was in its eighteenth year.
Thus, noticing her painful step,
He spoke to those who’d hear

“Woman, you are set free;
your ailment holds no sway”
He laid his hands upon her
and took her pain away.
So, standing straight before them,
among the gathered ranks,
she looked toward the shining sky
and offered God her thanks.

But the leader of the synagogue,
who sought to cast a cloud,
be-moaned the good Lord’s healing touch
and called out to the crowd
“There are six days you might work,
to undertake your quest,
but on this very Sabbath day
the Law demands you rest!”

The Lord then said, “You hypocrites,”
and took the man to task.
He recognised the bad intent
that lay behind his ‘mask’.
“Which owner of an ox or ass,
upon the Sabbath day,
Would not untie that weary beast
and bid it ‘drink away!’?

Ought not this daughter of Abraham,
in Satan’s clutch once bound,
thank the God who set her free –
the Sabbath should resound!
And, when his critics heard his words,
they hung their heads in shame.
The crowd rejoiced and jubilantly
came to love his name.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 12:32-48

7 August 2016

Little flock, don’t be afraid,
for it’s your Father’s pleasure
to give to you the Kingdom come –
Now, give alms and sell your treasure.

Make for yourselves purses pure,
The ones that don’t wear out!
An unfailing bounty in the heavenly realm,
be sure and have no doubt.

Where no thief takes, nor moth destroys;
no need for lock nor key.
For where your treasure lies at rest,
your heart will truly be.

Be dressed for action, lamps well-lit,
like at a wedding feast
and opening that busy door
you’re not considered least.

Blessed is the one who serves:
the master finds alert
and he will share his table’s fare –
of this I can assert.

The master, he will come and serve,
his belt pulled fast and tight;
ensuring that your needs are met
and ministered aright.

So, if the master comes at night
or breaking of the dawn,
A blessing on those late-night slaves
and those who serve that morn.

For, if the master somehow knew
the hour a thief might come,
he’d take precaution ‘gainst the act
so deed could not be done.

And you too must be prepared
to receive the Son of Man
and make yourself full ready
for God’s surprising plan.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 12:13-21

31 July 2016

Someone stepped from out the crowd
And, crying out, he said aloud,
“Make my brother see some sense,
and give to me full recompense.

Teacher, help him to decide;
the ‘family-share’ he must divide!”
But Jesus, seeing kindred grudge,
asked, “Who appointed me as judge?

Take care and guard against your greed,
in taking more than you might need!”
And then a parable he told,
worth its weight in precious gold.

“A rich man gathered very much
and pondered what to do with such
an excess of his gathered crop –
such was his greed, he couldn’t stop.

‘I’ll build myself a bigger store
to gather in yet even more.
I’ll tell my soul of all I’ve done –
relax and eat and have more fun.’

That very night God heard his plan
and said to him, ‘You foolish man!
Did you not know that I would call,
demand your life, and take your all!

All this wealth you see around,
yet cannot take a single pound!
An abundance you have kept yourself,
yet in God’s eyes you have no wealth!’”

Put no faith in earthly fare
and look toward your brother’s care
Listen to my words, take heed,
seek out God’s love, not human greed.

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 11.1-13

And in that place, and on that day,
one, who’d followed John, did say,
Lord, teach us all just how to pray
And so he told to them his way.

“Father, hallowed be Thy name;
that, as in heaven, on earth the same,
and to this place, thy kingdom come,
that all thy works may soon be done.
And give to us our daily bread,
that in God’s love we’re fully fed –
forgive the sins that we may know
and so forgive what others owe.
Take from us our guilt and guile
and put us not through time of trial.”

And then he told them all a tale.
With quiet voice said, “Listen now.
Suppose you had to call a friend;
at midnight, you had need to lend,
three loaves bread in urgent need;
an unexpected friend to feed.
But your neighbour said, ‘Don’t bother me!
We’re all in bed, I’ve turned the key!
Yet finally, through persistence, still
The late-night guest received his meal.”

“This is what I say to you –
now, understand what you must do.
Seek, with all your heart and mind
Look, and you will always find!
Persist and ask for all you need,
for God will know your need indeed.
Knock aloud and make a din
and God will let you enter in.

If your child cries for a fish,
would you undermine his wish
in bringing him a wicked snake
and put his very life at stake?
If it’s for an egg he cries,
what good father then denies?
A scorpion with its deadly sting –
tis’ evil, if it’s what he brings?

Even those with evil heart
set the ones they ‘love’ apart,
but the good and Holy One above
bestows on you the Spirit of Love.”

David Pape © 2016

LUKE 10:38-42

And as the time was getting on,
they went their way and came upon
a place to settle and to rest,
as Martha offered them her best.

Her sister, Mary, heard them preaching
and inspired by the good Lord’s teaching
sat and listened at his feet
and leaned back in her ‘comfy’ seat.

“For goodness sake!” was Martha’s cry;
“Is it really right that I
should work my fingers to the bone,
and have to do it all alone?

Tell her now to come and work,
tell her that she shouldn’t shirk:
tell her not to lounge around,
I’ve many a task that can be found!”

But Jesus said, “You worry too much
‘bout ‘this and that’ and ‘such and such
Calm yourself and take ‘time out’
No need for anger, no need to shout.

The Word of God – it has come near
and Mary wants to see, to hear!
The Father’s love has touched her heart,
and she has chosen the better part!”

David Pape © 2016