In this text from Ruth, all that Naomi has hoped for has happened. Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth is now the wife of Boaz, and she has given birth to a boy. The arrival of a male next-of-kin in a patriarchal society means there is now someone who will take care of them. The women of the village celebrate and give praise to God; the security and well-being for which Naomi prayed and planned have come to pass.
This makes it all the more interesting and curious that the village women specifically proclaim that Ruth is more important to Naomi than seven sons. Given that much of the story has been focused on Naomi and Ruth finding security as sonless widows, it might seem natural that Obed, the prayed-for son, would be the sole focus at the end of the story—perhaps especially since Obed is in the lineage of David, from whose house Jesus will be born. Instead, the story circles back around to the love shared between Ruth and Naomi, which is where the story began. (See Ruth 1:16-18.) Their relationship has led to their salvation in a very tangible way—through a marriage and the birth of a child who can care for them. But it appears that the relationship they share with each other is even more important.
As the old saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Perhaps for Ruth and Naomi, something similar has happened. Security and well-being were critical for their survival, of course; and they are overjoyed to no longer live in the anxiety of a hand-to-mouth existence. Still, even in their most desperate moments, they had each other—and perhaps because of that, they found the strength to persevere and to keep faith. In the midst of their wretched circumstances, they had been given the gift of their close bond, and that gift became as precious as everything else for which they longed.
Holy God, help us to be gifts of love and solidarity in all that we face together. Amen.
Ruth’s story forms part of the background of the family of Jesus. The son of Ruth and Boaz, Obed, is David’s grandfather. The women of Bethlehem rejoice with Naomi at the birth of her grandson, and the psalmist declares that children are a blessing from God. In the scriptures, children are spoken of only as a blessing, never as a liability (unlike some narratives in our culture). The writer of Hebrews builds upon the eternal nature of Christ’s sacrifice, proclaiming that his death was sufficient once for all. In Mark, Jesus warns his disciples not to be fooled by appearances. Those who put on a big show of piety do not impress God. God wants us instead to give from the heart, even if no one but God sees.
Read Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17. Who are the people in your community who lack the basic provisions for a safe and healthy life? How do you try to help meet their needs?
Read Psalm 127. In what ways do you invite God to be part of your work?
Read Hebrews 9:24-28. When have you eagerly waited for something? How did that feel?
Read Mark 12:38-44. How do you practice generosity in the way you allocate your resources and time?
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