By JENNIFER BURGIN
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Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter! Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field; you are not to leave here. Stay here with my women servants. Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them; I have commanded the young men to do you no harm. When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels the young men have filled.” Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him, “Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?” Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know previously.”
While meditating on today's first reading from Book of Ruth, images of sisterhood come to mind. Nuns pray the Divine Office in choir; sorority sisters dress up in identical t-shirts while engaged in community outreach; biological sisters enjoy a cup of coffee as they reminisce about childhood; women of faith gather together in prayer and fellowship....
Sisterhood is all about connection and formation of relationships centered aroundcommon interests, traditions, passions, and even misfortunes.
Deep in our psyches humans desire to live in community. God did not create us to remain alone in isolation. We are meant to bond and unite in ways that nourish and build up the Kingdom of God. In our technological world, we remain "connected" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sadly, we now lack many one-on-one physical connections. It's easier to text than pick up the phone and have a lengthy conversation. It's quicker to look at a photo on Facebook than to meet an old friend for a meal and see how they look in person. I think about all of my fellow "sisters" who I regularly follow on social media. Some I have not seen in person in 2 or 3 years. They even live in the same city.
Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth are the perfect example of the beauty of sisterhood. Even though not blood related, they share the grief associated with widowhood, losing the caretakers in their lives (husbands and sons). Both women decide to travel together away from famine in order to start a better life. They remain bonded together as they adapt to the new vocation of widowhood, gleaning for food and relying on the generosity of neighbors. Naomi accepts her daughter-in-law even though she is a "foreigner." The acceptance is reciprocated by Ruth. They love one another like biological mother and daughter! A shared faith in the Lord gives them the strength to persevere despite all of the tragedy they've endured. Incredibly, Ruth could have decided to cut ties with Naomi after her husband's death, yet she loved her mother-in-law so much that she remained committed to her care. I wonder how many Naomis & Ruths exist in our modern day society. We so often complain about annoying and frustrating "in laws." Maybe we should step back and reflect on the relationship between Naomi and Ruth. Perhaps we can "glean" inspiration from their story and improve our own personal relationships.
Naomi plays match-maker as she introduces Boaz to Ruth. Of course, as all good love stories end, the couple gets married. They give birth to a son they name Obed. (Naomi is one proud grandma!) We know from biblical tradition that Ruth's son is an ancestor to Our Lord Jesus. Wow, who ever thought the bond of sisterhood could become animportant contribution to salvation history?!
"Holy Mary, comfort the miserable, help the faint hearted, cheer those that weep, pray for the people, be the advocate of the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who celebrate your memory feel the might of your assistance. Amen." (The Sancta Maria Prayer)
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality