I suspect many of us think of the story of Ruth and Naomi when we hear the word “gleaning.” Destitute after their respective husbands died, these two resourceful women found sustenance by gleaning in a farmer’s field, gratefully gathering together the leftover grains that would nourish their bodies.
Caring for society’s vulnerable is built into the fabric of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Gleaning was an ancient social security net. These laws and rules were clearly spelled out in the Torah.
We recognize them as laws of compassion, of living in right relationship with each other. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord,” ends today’s reading. Faithful to the Torah and the traditions of his faith, Jesus would have learned these things at his mother’s knee. Many years later, he would preach and teach the very same thing, reminding people that caring for all who are vulnerable is a very real sign of God’s reign here on earth.
Generous God, you care for each and every one of us. Teach me to love as you love. Amen. — MKW