A great love story - Ruth 2:1-3
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Naomi has returned empty-handed to her land, but here we will see that the community had established ways to help people like Naomi and Ruth. Once again, we can see the hand of God taking care of those in need.
If we had any doubts about Ruth's character, they are dispelled in this short reading. Ruth accompanied her mother-in-law, not for Naomi to take care of her; but so that she could take care of this older woman.
All this will allow us to understand how God cares for his own.
1. In Ruth 1:22 we were told that Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem when the barley harvest began. What other key information is provided to us here?
In Moab, Naomi was really alone. She had no one to help her. Here, in Bethlehem, there is a social network that protects her. God is going to take care of Naomi and Ruth through his people.
2. In Israel, the relative had to help his family who were in distress. What are we being told here about Boaz?
Here we are given key information to understand what follows in this story. We are informed of Boaz's relationship with Naomi: he is a ‘relative’ of Elimelech, Naomi's late husband. Not only that, we are also informed that he was a "rich and influential man." The important thing to keep in mind is that Boaz is from the clan (‘extended family’) of Elimelec, the group that united individual families with the tribe. For the original readers of this passage, this information is very useful, because it indicates that these two widows are not unprotected.
Many times we approach Scripture wishing it would be more explicit in presenting its ideas, but we must get used to the fact that biblical authors often use subtle ways to introduce God's providence, as is the case here. But this subtlety is not the same for all: an original reader of this passage would not have needed more information than what is given here to clearly understand how God is taking care of these two women in need. For this reader, it was evident that God is present in history looking after the widows. It is for this reason that, before looking for a message for us, we must try to understand what the author wanted to deliver to the original readers of it.
3. Ruth did not come as a burden, but to help her mother-in-law. What does she want to do, where does she work?
Ruth, our heroine, is a young woman of initiative. She must provide for herself and for her mother-in-law. It is harvest time and she asks her mother-in-law to allow her to go to the field to gather wheat ears. This was done so that those who had the most would help the poorest in the community (widows, orphans, foreigners). This custom was not always respected, so Ruth indicates that it depends on the good will of the reaper ("anyone in whose eyes I find favor.").
Naomi's words “Go ahead, my daughter.”, should tell us that Naomi is aware of Ruth's love and commitment. As she can no longer go to work, she depends on her loving daughter-in-law.
Finally, we must not fail to notice the providence of God expressed in the fact that Ruth, unknowingly ends up gathering ears of corn in Boaz's field: ‘As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.’
There is an old saying, ‘If you put God in everything you do, you will see him in everything that happens to you’. We can be thankful for what God does in our life without our realizing it.
Think: Here we are introduced to the hero of this story (the heroine is Ruth). This relative is the ‘rescuer’, who must free Naomi and Ruth from their sad situation. Do you take care of others?
Ideas for prayer: Thank God that Christ is your rescuer. Ask him to respond to this rescue by being generous to those around you who need you.
Translated from the Chilean Common Prayer Book, prayer for stillness of heart. Page 130.
O God, you are the strength of those who put their hope in you, receive our prayers, and because of our fragility we can do nothing without you, grant us the power of your Holy Spirit so that by keeping your will we can please you in word and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Thank God for the Good Shepherd Academy (GSA), Juba, South Sudan. The school has recently expanded following a building development sponsored by the Anglican Relief Development Fund (U.S). The school is a safe place for education and peace-building. Pray for plans to expand the site further.
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