July 25, 2011

Tuesday after the Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 17, Ruth 2:14, Lk. 11:14-28
Evening - Ps. 27, Acts 18:24-19:7

The heart of today's reading in Ruth is found in verse 20. Naomi is suffering through the dark night of the soul. She seems to have had an exceptionally close and happy relationship with her family. Now her beloved husband is dead, along with her two dear sons. The people who made her life worth living have been ripped from hear heart, and her grief at this loss must have been almost unbearable. Added to this grief is the loss of her home and income, so that she is plunged into poverty so deep she becomes a beggar who has to rely on charity for even her food. She knows that, if her neighbors are not charitable, or if food is scarce, she and her daughter in law will face death by slow starvation in the coming winter.

It is difficult for us to imagine the deep, deep sorrow, anger, and despair that grips Naomi's heart, though we can see how it would be compounded by her nominal faith. But a spark of Godly hope is ignited within her when she sees the food brought to her by Ruth. Ruth has brought not only grain, but also a significant portion of the meal given to her earlier that day (2:14 & 18)-19). She bears the good tidings that Boaz has provided an abundant supply of food for them (2:15-16, 21-23). But verse 20 is the real turning point in Naomi's life. Learning that Ruth has gleaned in the fields of Boaz, Naomi realises that it is the Providence and Grace of God that took Ruth to the fields this day. Her words, "Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off His kindness to the living and to the dead," show that Naomi realises God intends to heal her wounded soul and restore her heritage in Israel. Boaz is required by Covenant Law to marry Ruth and provide children to inherit the property of her husband's father. He also has the wealth and power to redeem the property and return it to Ruth, and to Naomi. Naomi's words express her conversion. In these words, she confesses her faith in God, and takes her rightful place as a daughter of the Covenant.


In a very real sense, Boaz is a picture our Redeemer-Kinsman, our Lord Christ. He has power and the will to provide for the needs of life and to redeem us from the poverty of our sin. As God, though the kindness and faithfulness of Boaz, healed Naomi of the wounds in her soul and made her a child of the Covenant, Christ heals our souls and makes us children of grace. As Boaz had the power to redeem the property of Elimelech and make Naomi, Ruth, and her children heirs of land in Israel, Christ has power to redeem our souls and make us heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Naomi realises God is working out the redemption of her property and her soul. Thus she gives thanks to God for His kindness to her, the living, and to her husband and sons, the dead. Their heritage in Israel will continue.