Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
20th Friday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Pius X
Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22;
Matthew 22: 34-40
“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” (Ruth 1: 15-16). Today’s first reading gives us a beautiful example of spiritual accompaniment. Ruth places herself under the guidance and direction of a spiritual mother, Naomi. Ruth’s resolution to bind herself in love and affection to Naomi demonstrates what is needed to make life within a faith community work. It is noteworthy that these two woman are from different countries. Ruth’s affection for and commitment to Naomi are proof that love transcends kinship and socio-economic boundaries. What strong, courageous and loving women Naomi and Ruth were! This is what makes the story about two women coping with a crisis on their own with the help of God and each other especially precious. Ruth is an example of the grace of God, inclining the soul to choose the better part. Her mind was made up. Her heart would not be wrenched away from her mother-in-law. The length of the journey, its dangers, and the inevitable fatigue accompanying it, moved not her resolution.
We have much to learn from this heroic woman. Anyone who attempts to follow the Gospel Path without a steadfast mind, stands like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil and his minions. The journey home is a pilgrimage of faith. Naomi became for Ruth the guiding pillar (cloud by day and fire by night) that led her to the Land of Promise. Our resolve must be as absolute as Ruth’s, allowing nothing to separate us from the love of Christ.
The love of God is the first and greatest commandment. It is the sum of all the commands. The gospel challenges us to look with some urgency for new and creative ways of carrying forward the proclamation of the gospel of salvation in a society that has lost its anchor. If the world is to believe what we say, our love must be real and tangible. Our proclamation must be more than words. It has to be so all-embracing that people will say to us what Ruth said to Naomi: “Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God”
Our proclamation of the Good News has to be more than carefully chosen words. We must not merely speak the Gospel, Our lives must become the Gospel for others to see and imitate. By how we live and by what we do, we will make known the heart of Christ’s revelation. A soul that is truly brought to Christ affectionately loves him, and heartily cleaves unto him, resolves in the strength of divine grace to follow him wherever He may lead us. As true believers, we must desire to have communion with none but Christ. Having been conformed to Christ, may we cooperate with the grace we have received. As Christ pour out His life for the life of the world, may we to pour out our lives for the sake of the Kingdom.