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The Example of Ruth
August 26th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s first reading is from the Book of Ruth, one of my favourite books in the Old Testament. Ruth’s husband died, leaving his widow childless. When Ruth’s mother-in-law, Noemi, moved back to her homeland of Bethlehem, Ruth selflessly left her own family to live with Noemi. In Bethlehem, Ruth met a man named Boaz who allowed her to glean his fields and obtain grain for herself and Noemi. Boaz and Ruth were later married and bore a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David, from whom Our Lord descended. Because of this, Ruth is one of the few women whom St. Matthew mentioned by name in his genealogy of Jesus Christ.
The verse of today’s Psalm aptly summarizes the life of Ruth: “[T]he Lord blesses those who fear [H]im.” Ruth moved to a foreign land in order to be with her mother-in-law, demonstrating a Christ-like charity and humility. In today’s Gospel, Jesus taught the importance of humility: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Ruth was first exalted through her great-grandson King David, who wrote many beautiful Psalms in the Old Testament. The Psalms are considered to be the prayerbook of the Catholic Church due to their roles in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. The supreme exaltation that God bestowed upon Ruth was to make her a direct ancestor of His Incarnate Son, Who came to save mankind from their slavery to sin.
The study of genealogy has become popular in modern times as the younger generations seek to learn about their ancestors and connect with their past. As Catholics, the study of genealogy should serve to inspire our Faith. We should pray for our ancestors’ souls, that any still suffering in Purgatory may soon be united with God for eternity. We can also be inspired in our own faith by learning about devout ancestors. King David’s father taught him the Jewish faith, having received it from his father, who received it from Ruth and Boaz. How inspiring it must have been for the young King David to hear stories of his great-grandmother’s charity and faith!
Even families who do not come from Catholic roots can learn an important lesson from the story of Ruth. In the words of St. Paul, “[T]o them that love God, all things work together unto good…according to [H]is purpose” (Rom 8:28 DRB). Even events in our lives that seem very insignificant play a role in accomplishing God’s holy Will. We must strive to carefully do the Will of God in all things, as Ruth did, trusting that God uses everything to accomplish His Will. Someday, our descendants will look back on our lives in the hopes of learning from us. May we, like Ruth, give them an example of true Christian virtue that they can imitate and thereby grow closer to God.