Go! for Lent: Ruth 1:16
In the Old Testament, the book of Ruth comes to us like a precious gem following as it does numerous stories of war and conquest from the earlier books that we read in Hebrew Scripture.
These are some of the most endearing words of love and devotion that we read in scripture. After the death of her husband and her father in law, Ruth sacrifices the safety of her ancestral home to walk alongside Ruth, her mother in law on her journey home. Her journey of devotion and sacrifice is beautifully written within the book of Ruth. I can just imagine Ruth and Naomi walking hand in hand down a dusty old road, supporting one another as they travel together.
The word “go” in this context is a sign of solidarity, love and devotion. I first read this passage as an aid worker during the Liberian civil war, where I witnessed so much sacrificial giving from one stranger to another; despite the horrors of war, the human capacity to love still endured.
To me this passage is a call to reflect on how we should be in relation with one another, to the stranger, to those in need. We are called to be in relationship not because we feel pity or compassion, but because we are all children of God and made in God’s image. As Christians we are called to see all people as “our people” under the one God.
The relationship between Ruth and Naomi is one of a deep and abiding love. So often we read in the Gospels that we are called to love the stranger, for many of us this is easy to do in terms of giving money, but to truly love our neighbor we are called to a much deeper love, to a relationship where we care for one another as if they were “our people”, part of the same family.
I often recall the advice my wife was given by her grandfather before she was ordained as a priest in The Episcopal Church. He said the most important thing is to just “love the people”.
This simple message goes to the core of the gospel.
Just “GO” and love the people.