Ruth checked her email and there was only one note. A dear friend who she hadn’t been in contact with for awhile had written:
I'm going to be in your neighborhood this evening and I'd like to stop by for a visit.
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 meager contents. "Well, I can get some bread and cheese, at least."
She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, some cheese, and a bottle of wine, leaving Ruth with only some change to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.
"Hey, can you help us?"
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, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, 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. "I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor student myself. All I have is some bread and cheese, and I'm having an old friend for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to him."
"Well, okay, 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 twinge in her heart. "Wait! 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. Thank you very much!" echoed both the man and woman. Ruth could now see that the woman 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.
When she got home, she checked her email, and saw she’d gotten another note from her friend:
It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.
Love always, Jesus
The Lord said, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The Lord will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'