Archive for July 13th, 2021

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Ruth 1

Julius Hubner: Ruth and Naomi

Julius Hubner: Ruth and Naomi

Chesed – Part I – Reversal

“Famine, dislocation and death mark the beginning of the story,” we are told in notes from the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (410). Why would we want to read any further? Because this is the story of reversal and fulfillment. It is the story of transformation and love. It is a story worth reading over and over.

In Living Faith: Catholic Devotions Winter 2010, Sr. Kathryn James Hermes tells us that we are forced to focus and face the overwhelmingly magnificent message of redemption: God is doing something new! It’s not that God realized he had made a mistake at first. It’s not that he had botched things up so badly that God decided to scrap everything and begin again with new people. Instead, Isaiah is painting a love that has grown so immense that it can create life, hope and a future even in the midst of mistakes, sin and death. This compassion is so divine that it straightens bent limbs, raises dead bodies and spirits, and transforms the dull and callous heart. God will stop at nothing to make right our erring ways. He doesn’t need to start over”.

In Isaiah 65:17-21 we read: Thus says the Lord: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create: for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people.

God does not start over with Naomi and her daughters-in-law. These women did nothing to bring misfortune upon themselves. They are widows in a society which does nothing to tend to them and so they are left to fend for themselves. Yet, in following God they find themselves delivered. The message we hear in Isaiah, and the message of Lent is precisely this: God does not abandon his people, God is faithful, God turns evil to good.

We can never “botch things up” to such a degree that they are irredeemable. God does not throw us on the scrap heap to begin again. God loves us so much that he creates a newness out of our weakness. God straightens our bent-ness and enlivens our deadness. God softens hearts and brings life out of dark corners.

Wherever we are in our journey, God meets us at that spot, heals us of our wounded-ness, and carries us home as well-loved lambs.

The story of Ruth is a rich one and worth a good deal of our time. Chapter one is the bitter opening of a story that promises to be bleak; but if we invest the effort to read through to the end, we are rewarded with a story that might be our own. It is the story of full and intimate union; it is the story of reversal, of devotion, and of love.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 15, 2010.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 410. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 15.3(2010). Print.  

Image from: https://smb.museum-digital.de/index.php?t=objekt&oges=143273

Provenance/Rights: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Andres Kilger [CC BY-NC-SA]

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