Welcome back to week 3 of this study! Just a little recap: week 1 we talked about what ‘the beauty of a woman’ means. We talked about your worth as a daughter of Christ and the gifts that God gives us. Last week we walked through Ruth 1 and talked about 5 lessons it teaches us (you never have nothing to offer, we are called to carry others, freedom is found in faith, commitment in a relationship, and there is goodness to come). This week we will continue with the story of Ruth.
Please take this time to read Ruth 2.
In this chapter we meet Boaz. A true light in the darkness that the last chapter held. A man whom is not only kind and God fearing, but also a redeemer for Naomi’s family which means the possibility for Ruth to remarry and carry a child has just been rekindled. A truly glorified chapter that brings hope back into both Ruth and Naomi’s life.
This week we are going to talk more about the universal call to motherhood. If you remember last week, I defined this, in short, as the call every women has to carry those in their life physically (for those of us called to bear children), emotionally, and spiritually. This chapter reveals 3 beautiful qualities Ruth has that allows for her to fulfill this call to carry Naomi. These qualities are gentleness, strength, and humility.
We see gentleness throughout the entirety of the book of Ruth. In Ruth 1 we see how she insists to follow Naomi back to her home city, radically sacrificing everything she knew and every comfort she had. What tenderness, compassion, empathy, and love Ruth showed to Naomi! Again in Ruth 2, we see Ruth sacrificing her time and energy to serve Naomi in working to provide her with food to eat. Note that Naomi didn’t make Ruth go and glean. No, instead Ruth offered herself gratefully to this work. This form of sacrificial kindness shows the gentleness that Ruth possesses.
This gentleness is key in Ruth being able to carry Naomi. If Ruth didn’t possess the kindness and love that she shows she would never have followed Naomi, and she definitely would not have gone and provided food for her without complaint. However, due to Ruth’s gift of gentleness, she did all of this for the service of another. THIS is what we should be striving for. Sacrificing ourselves for another.
Now let’s remember a key point in a true sacrifice: not complaining. Doing a service for another with great joy. So many saints have shown us this. St. Therese of Liseaux (the little flower) is perhaps the best example of a woman who radiated this gentleness. Her passion was making small sacrifices with great love. St. Therese never did anything “great,” however she did everything with great love. Ruth is the same way. She didn’t levitate in prayer, or part the red sea, and an angel never appeared to her, but she shows us how to draw near to God in sacrificing yourself for another.
Notice how gentleness isn’t a weakness. It doesn’t mean that Ruth lacked passion or courage. It doesn’t mean Ruth was a pushover. It means that Ruth had the grace to put others before herself, and the love to do so joyfully.
Look at the strength Ruth holds! She works tirelessly without breaks (Ruth 2:7) in order to do her absolute best work. Ruth doesn’t allow for her own feelings of exhaustion to stop her from gleaning the field so she can bring home grain for Naomi. Instead, she uses Naomi’s need as motivation to work harder.
It may seem weird to follow gentleness up with strength, but honestly the two go hand in hand. In order to be gentle you must have great strength and in order to have strength you must be gentle. Think of gentleness as love and strength as sacrifices. In order to show your love you must make sacrifices. No one is going to feel loved if you never show them that love through sacrificing your need and wants for theirs (need strength for gentleness). However, on the flip side, you would never be able to make a sacrifice (with no selfish motives and not complaining) if you didn’t love the person you were sacrificing for (need gentleness for strength). Strength is what allows for us to show our gentleness to others.
Last week, we talked about the struggles we have within our call to carry others. The exhaustion the fear. However, when we possess strength we are able to put down those weaknesses and continue to make sacrifices to carry others. Ruth never stopped working. Nor should we.
Now in order for Ruth to possess such strength she needed to replenish herself. She needed food, she needed water. We too must replenish our souls in order to carry others. Let the Eucharist be your food and prayer your water. Let Jesus replenish your soul. He will make your burdens light and illuminate the path of service we are called to.
Humility. What a hard idea to grasp. Humility is found only with true and complete understanding of God’s goodness, and it is a trait that Ruth near perfects. Look at how Ruth took even her ability to pick up leftover crops for food as a gift. She truly sees herself as nothing but a servant for those around her. Everything given is an act of kindness and a way in which Christ reveals His goodness. She is truly thankful for everything Boaz does for her and understands her littleness and status underneath him.
So often in society we expect too much. Now maybe you’re thinking you don’t. Maybe you’re grateful for the iPhone 5 you have and understand that even if it’s not the latest technology it’s still an amazing gift. Maybe you understand that your stocked closet is an amazing sacrifice your parents have made for you even if it’s not as full as you would like. Maybe you even know that the food you get 3 times a day shows God’s goodness and blessings in your life. Now these are all great things, and yes understanding this is crucial in being humble. But lets take a step back even further.
Do you demand respect? Do you expect others to be nice to you? Do you see the flaws in other’s small yet rude gestures? Of course you do! I’m not going to let others disrespect me, I expect everyone to at least act nice, and coming from the south if the person in front of me doesn’t hold the door that is the just plain rude. But you know what? That’s my pride showing. Yes, God created us to love and to be loved. He gave us a worth of dying on a cross for (remember week 1). However, He didn’t have to. Yes God calls us to respect each other, and be kind, and be generous, but God also gave us free will to choose not to. Expect nothing and recognize everything you are given as gifts that shows the love that person is giving us.
Ruth saw Boaz’s most simple gesture of allowing her to pick up fallen grain as an act of great love. Seeing the love of others is a way to more fully see and appreciate God’s goodness. The more we see God’s goodness, the closer we are drawn to Him and the better we understand the way He is calling us to live. Therefore, as Ruth’s humbleness drew her closer to Christ replenishing her strength to carry Naomi, we too can better serve others by understanding we are not worthy of the love God desires for us to receive.
Wow! What beauty Ruth possesses! What traits we should aim to possess and grow in! Ruth has thus truly revealed to us the way Christ is calling us to live. This week I would like to challenge you to pick one of these traits and strive to work on it. I think you will find focusing on one helps to strengthen all because truly gentleness, strength, and humility are all connected in a beautiful way. Until next week remember you are loved and you are created in perfection.
-St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us
Note: inspired by reflection here