Scripture: Lectionary 423. Aug.23. Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16.22. Psalm 146:5-6.7.8-9.9-10:
Our liturgical readings give us a pause. We leave the troublesome times of Judges into a more genial and pastoral story that is told in the beautiful book of Ruth. In the synagogue this is one of the five megillot used on the festivals. Ruth is read at the festival of Succoth, the harvest festival, and it occurs fifty days after Passover (Pesach). In the New Testament we celebrate Pentecost our the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Mary and others gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem.
This book is really more a story about Naomi (the pleasant one) than Ruth, but Ruth’s love and fidelity to her mother-in-law is the golden theme that captures our hearts in reading this small book of four chapters. Family ties, friendship, and hospitality are emphasized in this story. We also have the beginning of the Messianic lineage that will issue in the birth of David from the grandson of Ruth. Matthew will continue that lineage to sum up the birth record of Jesus born of Mary the virgin (see Matthew 1:1-16). Ruth is mentioned in Matthew 1:5).
The Marianists have echoes of this verse in their Rule of Life where in the first chapter this statement is found: “Jesus Christ become son of Mary for the salvation of all.” (Mary is mentioned in Matthew 1:16).
The reading of Ruth gives us much hope in the divine providence and plan of God in salvation history. Humble people keep the lineage of the Messiah going and show us the way to God with their trust and fidelity.
The verse that points to David the King and Messiah reads: “And Boaz, the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David.” (Matthew 1:5). Matthew has three sets of fourteen generations till we get to the birth of Jesus. Fourteen is the numerical equivalent in Hebrew of the name David (D=4 and Vav=6, hence D+V+D = David). Matthew 1:16 reads, “And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born who is called the Messiah.” Matthew was quite aware of the book of Ruth who had an important role in the genealogy of Jesus through the messianic lineage of David.
Frequently, the Book of Ruth is chosen as a reading at a wedding. Ruth’s unforgettable words are of perfect reflection of what friendship, family attachment, and marriage are about. Ruth says, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
In the Bible most names mean something that represents the virtues or strengths of the person. Ruth means “friend, companion.” Boaz, her husband means “in him is strength.” Both lived up to their names. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.
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