Saturday, 8/19/ 11
The first reading gives us an Old Testament reading from eleven hundred years before Jesus. There was a drought in Bethlehem, and a man named Elimelech with a wife called Naomi took their two sons Mahlon and Chilion across the Dead Sea to where there was free land in Moab. The sons found the pagan wives Orpah and Ruth, and all was going well, but then Elimelech and his two sons died.
Naomi told her daughter-in-laws to go back to their parents while she returned to Bethlehem in hopes of finding something to eat with her husband’s relatives. Orpah left, but Ruth, said, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge I will lodge, your God will be my God. Wherever you die I will die and be buried."
They came to Bethlehem at harvest time, and Ruth asked Naomi for permission to follow the harvesters through the fields, picking up grains that fell. When Naomi saw her daughter-in-law returning with an apron full of barley, she asked her whose field she had gleaned in. On hearing that it was the field of Boaz, Naomi said, “Go back there again. That man is a near relative of your dead father-in-law.”
The next day, noticing how hard Ruth worked, Boaz asked, “Whose girl is this?” (He did not ask who she was, as if he found her attractive; but as a family-oriented man, he asked, “Whose girl is that?) On hearing that she was the Moabite daughter-in-law of his near relative Elimelech, Boaz told the young men not to hit on her, and he told them to dump an extra load of barley into her apron.
When Naomi found out about the good luck, she got serious. On the night of the threshing she spruced Ruth up, telling her to sleep at the feet of Boaz. Ruth did, and Boaz, seeing her make this symbolic claim on him, went and conferred with the elders at Bethlehem’s gate, fixing it up for him taking on Ruth as a wife. They became the grandparents of King David, and ancestors of Joseph.