"Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried. May the LORD do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”
Some of the most loving words of the Bible are spoken by Ruth in the Old Testament. And though we typically use them to describe the relationship between a man and wife, Ruth did not speak them to any man, but to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth and Naomi's relationship paints a beautiful picture of what it means to love one another. Their relationship, of mutual love, trust, and respect is one that we can all learn from. Ruth's love for Naomi means that she does not abandon her after Naomi's son (Ruth's husband) dies. Ruth is free to return to her home; she is young and can marry again. instead, she travels with Naomi back Naomi's home of Bethlehem, where Ruth is will remain a foreigner. Ruth's support allows for Naomi, in her old age, to return safely to her family who will provide for them.
Upon arrival, Ruth continues to faithfully care for her beloved mother-in-law. She works in the fields to provide for their meals and supplicates herself to the owner so that she can collect as much as possible. Ruth is humble and modest, serving a woman she has only self-imposed obligations to. Those are the qualities that make her stand out to her future husband, Boaz. Because Ruth is modest and humbly presents herself to him, Boaz intervenes to take possession of Naomi's holdings as her provider, and in turn, becomes Ruth's as well.
Ruth's story offers many lessons: to be humble, loving, kind, generous, modest, etc. But the most important feature of Ruth's story is that because of her, a foreign woman, Obed was born. Ruth's son would be the father of Jesse, from whom Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus would descend. To the Israelites then and to us now, Ruth's story is a lesson warning us about xenophobia, discriminating against others unlike us. Just because Ruth was not a born Hebrew did not take away from her importance in God's plan. Israelites are not more important than Gentiles, Christians are not more important than non-Christians; great things can come from those who are different.
Let us pray today for a warm, welcoming, humble heart like Ruth's, so that we may welcome our brothers and sisters into our lives no matter where they are from or the religion they practice. Mary's precious son, Jesus, would have never been if not for Ruth. By intercession through Mary, we can become more like Ruth and those who welcomed her.