They say the Master is coming to honor the town today,
And none can tell at whose house or home the Master will choose to stay.
And I thought while my heart beat wildly, “What if He should come to mine?
How would I strive to entertain and honor this guest divine?”
And straight I turned to toiling, to make my house more neat,
I swept and polished and garnished and decked it with blossoms sweet.
I was troubled for fear the Master might come ‘er my task was done,
And hastened and worked the faster and watched the hurrying sun.
But straight in the midst of my duties, a woman came to my door,
She had come to tell me her sorrows and my comfort and aid implore.
And I said, “I cannot listen, nor help you any today,
I have greater things to attend to,” and the pleader turned away.
But soon there came another—-a cripple, thin, pale, and gray,
And said, “Oh, let me stop and rest a while in your home, I pray.
I have traveled far since morning, I am hungry and faint and weak,
My heart is filled with misery, and comfort and aid I seek.”
And I said, “I am grieved and sorry, but I cannot help you today.
I look for the Great and Noble Guest,” and the cripple went away.
The day wore onward swiftly, and my task was nearly done,
And a prayer was ever in my heart that the Master to me might come.
And I thought I would spring to meet Him and serve Him with utmost care,
When a little child stood by me, with a face so sweet and fair—-
Sweet, but with marks of teardrops, and his clothes were tattered and old.
A finger was bruised and bleeding, and his bare little feet were cold.
And I said, “I am sorry for you; you are sorely in need of care,
But I can not stop to give it; you must hasten on elsewhere.”
And at the words, a shadow crept ‘ore my blue-veined brow,
“Someone will feed and clothe you, Dear, but I am too busy now.”
At last the day was ended and my toil was over and done.
My house was swept and garnished, and I watched in the dark alone.
Watched, but no footsteps sounded, no one ‘er paused at my gate.
No one entered my cottage door; I could only pause and wait.
I waited ‘til night had deepened, and the Master had not come.
“He has entered some other door,” I cried,” and entered some other home.
My labor has been for nothing!” and I bowed my head and wept.
My heart was sore with longing; yet in spite of all I slept.
Then the Master stood before me; His face was grave and fair,
“Three times today I came to your door and craved your pity and care.
Three times you turned me onward, unhelped and uncomforted,
And the blessings you might have had are lost, and your chance to serve has fled.”
“Oh, Lord, dear Lord, forgive me! How could I know it was thee?”
My very soul was shamed and bowed in the depths of humility.
And He said, “The sin is pardoned, but the blessing is lost to thee.
For comforting not the least of mine, you have failed to comfort me.”