Improvisations on Matthew 5: 38-48

Who’s Blushing Now?

            …If anyone wants to sue you and take away your coat, give your cloak as well”             Matthew 5:40

Naked is not about buttocks
and balls, door-knob knees,
little pot belly,
ribs a-countable,
pecs not what they used to be,
and legs getting stringy,
like an old chicken.

It’s a bare soul,
that’s really embarrassing.
You know, taking the clothes
off a debtor
person … nation,
leaves the greedy exposed,
the injustice, just
hanging out in the wind.

Now that’s


Scholars point out that, although it was legal for military personnel to force first century Jews to drop evrything and carry a pack for a mile. It was illegal to force them any further and that behavior could have serious ramifications for a soldier. Jesus’ suggestion is somewhat subversive!

Second Mile

“...and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Matthew 5:41

Ok, Asshole, hand over the pack!
Hey, Dimwit, mile marker’s here.
Are you stealing my pack?

That sucker’s heavy –
go on home!

Hey, You … Snake got your tongue?

You think I’m not strong enough
to carry that pack full gear?
I could throw three
of you skinny little Jews
to the next mile marker.

Stop, right now!
Are you deaf and blind?
That was the mile marker back there.
Put it down now!
Put it down!            Now!

You know we can’t make you Jews
go more than a mile.
Are you trying to get me fined,
flogged?  Look Trouble-maker,
put it down!

I’m not even going that direction!

I know you people –
think you can get me in trouble
with my commanding officer.
No dice!
He’s going to listen to me for sure –
then you’ll be sorry!

Jupiter, why did I get stuck with
the idiot Jew?

Look, I’m new in this job.
I didn’t want to take you away
from your shop.
Hades, I didn’t want to be in
this stinking country at all.

Seriously, I just didn’t know the way.

Look, I appreciate the help –
you’ve gone out of your way!
Great job, good muscle – hey,
I bet you’re an athlete.

By the way, do you speak the language?

You, ah, Jew bar Jew,
would you please
just put the pack down … Now?

Look it’s been great, but …
I’d like to stop
and take in the view.
I have a wineskin … care to join me
in a little lunch?

My name’s Marcus –
just down from the seven hills.
Yeah, first time I’ve been here.
Beautiful country, isn’t it.
Lots of history,
interesting religion, too.

What did you say your name was?

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4 Responses to Improvisations on Matthew 5: 38-48

  1. Betsy Webber says:

    That was just plain powerful!!

  2. rezrevres says:

    In the sparkling clean and plasticized version of Jesus that many “church-folks” often seem to prefer, the fact that Jesus was frequently offering something of a subversive critique in his stories and parables is generally completely over-looked. Given how readily any marginalized or colonized people could hear Jesus’ subversive message, it’s truly amazing that the missionaries shared the gospel with the very people they were attempting to subjugate. I suppose the trick is in how they interpreted their Biblical translation., Thank you Maren, for unpacking the generally ignored Gospel intent in more honest and contemporary language..

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