Scripture: Lectionary 424. Aug.24th. Ruth 2:1-3,8-11. 4:13-17. Psalm 128:1-2,3. 4-5. Matthew 13:1-12:
Our first reading ends the book of Ruth and leads us next week into the very first writing of the New Testament, the first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians (49 A.D.). Ruth leaves us with great joy and hope as we learn of the beginnings of the Messianic line through Obed , son of Ruth to Jesse and David. We leave Naomi retrieving her inward peace and pleasant demeanor in nursing Obed and thus fulfilling her dreams as a grandmother usually does. Our evangelist Matthew has taken up the theme in his genealogy and has Ruth as an important woman in the lineage that leads to Mary, the last of the five women mentioned in the birth narrative of Jesus the Messiah who is from the bloodline of David. I believe this is the only mention of Ruth outside of the book of Ruth (Matthew 1:5). It was the unusual circumstances that united her in marriage with Boaz and with the other four women mentioned in the birth record of Jesus. All seem to have been foreigners except for the mother of Jesus, Mary of Nazareth (Matthew 1:16).
In the Nativity hymn of St. Ephrem, the harp of the Holy Spirit, we have these poetic words about three of the four women:
“Because of you, women pursued men: Tamar desired a man who was widowed, and Ruth loved a man who was old. Even Rahab, who captivated men, by You was taken captive.”
Bathsheba was not listed but does appear in Matthew’s genealogy. She may have been a Gentile also since her husband is Uriah, the Hittite. All of these women continue the messianic line down to Mary the mother of Jesus. They all were graced with a male child within the unusual circumstances of their marriage. They are the foremothers of the Messiah.
The Psalm helps us to bless them as such: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him…those who walk in his ways.” They are happy, that is, blessed and they are favored (graced).
We constrast the behavior of Jesus with those religious leaders mentioned in today’s Gospel excerpt. We have learned from Matthew that Jesus is meek and humble of heart and that he summons us to come and follow him for his burden is light and he gives comfort to our souls. On the other hand, those who seek prestige and power through their religion put heavy burdens on people. The speak boldly but do not do what they preach or proclaim. They talk the talk but do not walk the walk.
What about us? We are called to be like the women in the genealogy. We trust in God despite the setbacks that cross our lives. We are servants of the Lord like Boaz, Naomi, Ruth, and Obed. Like them we are often surprised by God in our pilgrimage of faith. We continue to be like Jesus in our dealings with others. This is the call of the Lord to all who trust in the paths of justice and the ways of truth. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.