20th Friday of Ordinary Time
Ruth 1:1,3 -6,14b-16,22; Matthew 22:34-40
We hear in today’s first reading how Ruth, who was to become an ancestress of Jesus, came to reside in Bethlehem. This text however presumes knowledge of the first chapter of this brief book. There we are told that Naomi had moved with her husband from Bethlehem to upper Moab because of famine in their native town. Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women, One of them was Ruth. Naomi was widowed and lived with her sons and their wives for some ten years when both sons died. When the famine in Judea came to an end, Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem. She encouraged her widowed daughters -in-law to remain in Moab with their own people. Ruth insisted on remaining with Naomi and so accompanied her to Bethlehem, where food was now adequate.
That is all we learn from this text in today’s liturgy. If we read on in this brief book, which is the shortest in the whole Bible, we learn that Ruth married a prosperous landowner in Bethlehem, and gave birth to a male child who was given the name Jesse. When he attained adulthood and married he eventually fathered twelve sons,the youngest was David. It was a descendant of David, Mary of Nazareth, who became the virginal Mother of Jesus many generations later. This seemingly insignificant story in the reading today represents, in fact, the early beginning of the most spiritually significant event in human history: the Incarnation.
The Gospel text from Saint Matthew illustrates clearly how Jesus readily confounded his critics. After learning how he had discomfited the Sadducees, the Pharisees sought to discomfit him by leading him to reply in some leading question. However, they were silenced by his ready response to their leading question. Matthew does not record any reply to our Lord’s answer to their attempt to trap him into objectionable teaching.
One lesson we can take from these two passages in this liturgy is that the only way to approach the Lord who comes to us in this Eucharist is from an earnest and sincere desire to to welcome him in simplicity of heart.