The Book of Ruth is one of the shorter books in the Bible. In today’s first reading, we meet Ruth. Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother. But the story of how that came to be is fascinating, and we see the beginning of it today. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 22, Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment. Jesus gives a two-part answer. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law. She was not a daughter of Israel, but a Moabite, a foreigner. After Naomi’s husband and both sons died, Naomi decided to return to her people. Because her husband, Naomi’s son, was no longer alive, Ruth was not obligated in any way to stay with Naomi. In fact, Naomi’s other daughter-in-law decided to return to her people. But Ruth would not leave Naomi, even though Naomi encouraged her to do so. Ruth decided that she would stay part of her new family. Ruth’s words to Naomi are beautiful.
“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.” Such dedication and fidelity! Ruth is a wonderful example of fidelity and piety. She served her mother-in-law faithfully, even though she was a foreigner and was not obliged to do so. Ruth shows us the importance of keeping our commitments.
Father, we thank you for the gift of family, and for the example of Ruth. Help us to practice such fidelity in our lives. Amen.