Matthew's genealogy of Jesus we hear:
"...Boaz became the
father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse
the father of David the king.”
But hidden in this lineage was a very humble and courageous woman who I would dare say prefigured Mary. I am speaking here of Naomi, the wife of Elimelech, from Bethlehem of Judah.
Elimelech, along with his wife Naomi, and their two sons had to leave
Bethlehem and go settle for some time in the land of Moab because of a
severe famine. It was here that Naomi became a young widow. She was left
with the care of her two sons without the support of family or homeland. She
suffered further heartache for her sons grew up and married in this foreign
land, but both sons died childless. God did not forsake this noble woman.
God provided for Naomi by giving her a very faithful daughter-in-law.
is this relationship between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth that I see a
connection with the relationship between Mary and John the Apostle.
When Jesus saw his
mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman,
behold you son." Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother." And
from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 26)
After the death of her sons, Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to
their own families. Ruth stayed on and Naomi encouraged her to follow her
sister-in-law. "See now, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and
her god. Go back after your sister-in-law." (Ruth 1:15)
Do not ask me to
abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I
will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Wherever
you die I will die, and there be buried. (Ruth 1: 16-17)
Can we not hear a similar exchange between Mary and John?
is not improbable that Mary said:
See now! Your brothers
(the other apostles) have gone home to their families and then off to preach
Jesus' message. Don't stay with me; you have your life to live. You are
young, and have no legal obligation to stay with me.
And John responded:
Do not ask me to
abandon or forsake you! For wherever you are I will be ...you will be my
mother and I will be your son.
When Ruth pledged her love and fidelity to Naomi, her future marriage to
Boaz was not apparent. Naomi humbly welcomed Ruth's love and in so doing
cooperated in God's plan for salvation. Mary, too, accepted a gesture and
pledge of selfless love. What had she to offer John but a broken heart? She
had lost her one treasure in life. John was young and had a life ahead of
him. Yet, Mary, like Naomi, held the promise of salvation. It was through
Mary's loving and humble acceptance of John as son that the Church came into
the plan of salvation.
Some further comparisons can be made between these two women:
After the death of her sons, Naomi and Ruth went back to Judah. Naomi cared
for Ruth as a loving mother, and she helped plan for Ruth's future welfare.
We know from scripture that she counseled Ruth about working in the fields
of Boaz. "You would do well, my dear, to go out with his servants; for in
someone else's field you might be insulted." (Ruth 2:22) Our church
tradition tells us that Mary spent many intimate years with John, sharing
her knowledge and understanding of her Son and his plan for salvation with
him. It was this wisdom that came to fruition in John's Gospel.
the Book of Ruth we see Naomi as a woman of blessing. She blessed Boaz for
his goodness to Ruth: “May he who took notice of you be blessed.” (Ruth
2:19) The Church today tells us that Mary blesses all those who do the will
of her Son, Jesus.
the last chapter of Ruth, we hear the Israelite women praising God for
sending Naomi a grandson, so that her son's name would not perish: "Blessed
is the Lord who has not failed to provide you today with an heir." (Ruth
4:14) Yes, the Lord looked on Naomi's plight and he blessed her fidelity
with the birth of her grandson, Obed. Mary in her Magnificat echoed this
...The hungry he has
filled with good things and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped
his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1 :53-55)
For her courage as a
young widow, who raised her sons alone, her suffering the death of her sons,
and her open embrace of Ruth as her own daughter, Naomi found favor with the
Lord, who blessed her as the grandmother of King David. This same God
blessed Mary, who at the death of her Son willingly embraced John as her
Son, by making her the Mother of the His Church.
Mary Virginia Quinn, I.H.M
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