32 Sunday in Ordinary Time ?. November 12, 2006 Edmonton
Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again.
There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address.
She read the letter:
Dear Ruth: I?m going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I'd like to stop by for a visit.
Love Always, Jesus
Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table.
"Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer."
With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets.
"Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner."
She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. 5,40
?Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least."
She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk ... leaving Ruth with grand total twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.
"Hey lady, can you help us, lady?"
Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.
"Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out her e on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us. Lady, we'd really appreciate it."
Ruth looked at them both.
They were dirty, they smelled bad and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.
"Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself.
All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him."
"Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway."
The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley.
As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.
The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them.
"Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest."
She handed the man her grocery bag.
"Thank you lady. Thank you very much!"
"Yes, thank you!" It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.
"You know, I've got another coat at home.
Here, why don't you take this one."
Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders.
Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street...without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.
"Thank you lady!
Thank you very much!"
Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too.
The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.
"That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day."
It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.
The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.
Somebody once said: "When a man dies, he carries in his hands only that which he has given away."
We would do well also to recall the question asked about the wealthy man who died. "How much money did he leave? The answer came promptly. "All of it!"
Someone has enumerated four different types of giving.
The first is called grudge giving. I hate to part with this twenty dollars but ?. I will.
The second is shame giving. I must match whatever the Jones family is giving.
The third is calculated giving. We part with our money with what, someone deliciously called, a "lively sense of favors to come." Bingos, Las Vegas nights, and raffle tickets fit in very nicely in this category.
The final category is thanksgiving. I part with my funds precisely because God has been so wonderfully generous to me. The widow of today's Gospel fits comfortably into this area.
And how am I giving ?