Naomi had a kinsman on her husband's side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, "Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I may find favour." She said to her, "Go, my daughter." So she went. She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. As it happened, she came to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn." Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favour in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?" But Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him." Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi." They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper. (R./)
Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table. (R./)
Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life.' (R./)
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father - the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."
The story of Ruth shows how foreigners are absorbed into the family of Israel. We can feel great empathy with lovely story, which combines agony and loss, peace and hope, but most of all the loving, mutual concern of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. The younger woman, Ruth, is drawn by affection for Naomi to opt for faith in Yahweh, "Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God." It was rather fanciful of John Keats to imagine her as sad of heart and sick for home, when standing amid "alien corn" and hearing the nightingale's song.
Ruth learns from her experience of life: starting from her loyal love for her mother-in-law Naomi she arrives at the love of God. We too need the help of others to appreciate the love of God for us.
Jesus says that we have only one Father, and he is in heaven, and we have only one Teacher, namely, the Christ. Some disciples probably thought of themselves as teachers; indeed, at the very end of Matthew's gospel, Jesus does send them out as teachers, to make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. Yet here he tells them, to us, 'you have only one teacher.'
But at a deep level, Jesus is the ultimate teacher. He is the teacher in a way that none of his disciples, none of us, could ever be. Because he is our teacher, we are always learners. We have nothing to teach him, but everything to learn from him. He invites us to "'Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart." Our calling is to be open to all he wants to teach us, in and through the circumstances of our lives. We learn by reflecting on his words and actions, by reflecting on our experience, and by inviting the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and lead us to the complete truth.