Sonnets on the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary
Dr David Lightfoot FAITH Magazine May-June 2004
The Baptism of Our Lord in the Jordan
This man will always draw crowds; split them too –
just as this rock divides the Jordan’s flow –
attract, repel, become the Shepherd who
inspires hosannas and the Scapegoat no
good citizen of Zion could prefer
to bandits like Barabbas. Now he comes,
one of the crowd but strangely singular,
while thunder imitates the roll of drums.
At first John Baptist cannot understand
this public act of solidarity
with all these sinners, even feels it wrong
to meet his cousin’s puzzling demand,
until a dove and God’s own heraldry,
confirms what he had prayed for all along.
The Wedding Feast at Cana
Elisha is the key to this joke shared
between a Mother and her Son, the start
of His public career that no-one dared
imagine could end as it did. The heart
of it is faith; the prophet once had told
the Leper to immerse himself seven times
in Jordan’s stream; now after a six fold
repletion of these water-jars, He mimes,
as Mary smiles, how they should now draw next.
Obedient but doubtful they comply,
so it is from this pitcher they then bring
the Master of the Feast must taste, perplexed,
the best wine of his life. It makes him cry;
and, as for all the guests, it makes them sing.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
Was the announcement as unpopular
back then as it is now? His message; God’s
kingdom has come! Implies that some former
dominion has gone, that Satan’s rod
is either snapped or will be any day.
the unregenerate will greet His news
with either clever scorn or numb dismay;
from now on, after this, there’s no excuse.
On dusty roads, from fishing-boats, He tells
them what they secretly had hoped they would
not hear: Repent! The change of heart it needs
involves too much forgiveness, spells
acceptance of unearthly brotherhood
and worship of the sort of God Who bleeds.
Up here in double dark of night and snow
John, James and Peter most of all, long for
the heat and dust but He has planned it so;
this is to be His glory precursor,
a privileged rehearsal of the day
He knows will dawn as the world’s turning-point.
His expectation of their disarray,
when other men have hurried to anoint
His bruised and bloodied corpse, provides this hint
of Act One of the New Creation when,
as now to their serene alarm, He’ll shine
in light John never will forget. By dint
of blazing in the minds of chosen men
how He can change, He’ll change the world’s design.
The Institution of the Eucharist
It’s hard to understand what they assume
He means by either deed or word: to break
a fragment off a loaf and in the gloom
of candlelight insist each of them take
what He then claims, as they receive it, is
no longer bread Mary was asked to find
but something else now. He declares: For this
- not – “seems like”, “represents” or “calls to mind”
but – is my body. They accept and eat,
remembering how earlier He had taught
the same disturbing doctrine, For unless
you eat My flesh and drink My Blood, - they beat
their breasts in sorrow at the awful thought –
you have no life in you…That dire unless !