Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Rth 2:1-3
"Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan
of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz" (Rth 2:1).
If Elimelech and Naomi had a wealthy kinsman all along, then
why did they go to Moab in the first place, instead of going to him for help?
What foolishness it is in the hour of weakness and need to forget the "near
kinsman" who is strong and able to help!
And when we need help, to whom do we turn? to everything and
everyone EXCEPT the One who has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake
you." We have a "near kinsman" who holds the key to the universe and all of its
treasure! Let us go to his fields, and humbly work there, and ask for and wait
for his blessing! It will surely come.
"And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the
fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.'
Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter' " (Rth 2:2).
There was poverty in the household -- two widows with no
visible means of support. Ruth, the daughter of a hated race, and only a
proselyte at best, shows a wonderful knowledge of and dependence upon the Law --
which allows special privileges for widows: that is, to glean in the fields
during harvest. She represents the anxious person in search of truth; forsaking
her old companions and her "gods", she leaves all, and is not ashamed to put on
the apron of the "gleaner". Ruth did not need to keep her poverty a secret; and
it is her poverty that brings her to the rich kinsman!
And what about us? When we are weak (and when we know it!),
THEN we may begin to find strength in the LORD -- whose strength is perfected,
and finds fulfillment, in our weakness. Frail vessels of clay we may be, but we
can take our vessels to the place where the riches and glory of our Father are
dispensed, and there we can ask for our share!
"So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the
harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to
Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech" (Rth 2:3).
Here is God's hand of providence, seen also in Rth 2:12,19,20.
Nothing really happens to the elect of God by blind chance; God is always
working -- even if we don't really know how and when: Mat 10:29,30; Rom 8:28;
Pro 3:5,6; Jer 10:23.
Gleaning was a privilege of the poor and widows (Lev 23:22;
Deu 24:19), and also of strangers, or aliens (Lev 19:9,10). (Ruth was all these
wrapped up in one: poor, a widow, and a stranger!) Gentiles today, as did Ruth
then, may "glean" in the fields of Boaz -- who represents Christ.
Compare the Canaanite woman (the "little dog") in Mar 7:24-30
-- engaged in another form of gleaning! 'Yes, Master, I know I'm an unclean
Gentile woman [not a "righteous" Jewish man!]... but if it's alright with you
I'll just hide here under the table like a little puppy, and be happy to eat a
few of the crumbs that the "children" carelessly drop.' The delicious irony of
that is... the few crumbs are more than enough. The man who turned a few little
loaves into a meal for thousands can turn our few little crumbs into a banquet
to last a lifetime!
Reading 2 - Isa 44:6,7
""This is what the LORD says -- Israel's King and Redeemer,
the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last"...
...that is, the One who foretells the future (cp v 7 here as
well as Rev 1:1; 22:6: "what must soon take place"), and the One who brings it
..."apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let
him proclaim it" (Isa 44:6,7).
"Men may accept the proposition that God exists in the same
way that they believe that things equal to the same thing are equal to one
another, or that the circumference of a circle is approximately three times its
diameter; but such cold assent will bring no yearning for His name to be
hallowed. Worse still, 'God' may mean for men no more than a personification of
their own ideas of right and good will. In that case 'God' is for them the dream
of an ideal. They retain the dream because life would be rather more drab if it
faded, just as life would be duller without the occasional beauty of a sunset;
yet doubtless they could live well enough if they had to in a climate where no
sunset was ever seen. Such a God is really subordinate to themselves. And if God
depends on men, they may violate every principle of goodness He is supposed to
embody in order to defend their ideal" (LG Sargent, "Teachings of the Master"
"Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since
I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come -- yes, let him
foretell what will come" (Isa 44:7).
"No other religion makes this challenge, or responds to it.
Today's fashionable enthusiasm for Islam and Buddhism and what-not is so much
hot air, for none of these cults, hoary though they may be, can point to
unmistakable divine vindication in past history, and none of them can offer a
single prophecy, either fulfilled or for the future" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah"
Reading 3 - Jud 1:13
"They are... wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has
been reserved forever" (Jud 1:13).
There is an interesting ambiguity here: is this shooting star
(ie, meteor), or comet? The former flashes suddenly through the night sky,
making a brilliant blaze for a split second and then disappearing for ever in a
darkness which now seems all the more intense. The latter swings slowly and
steadily into sight, an impressive spectacle in the heavens for maybe weeks or
months, and then fades away into nothingness as its immensely long orbit takes
it away into the depths of outer darkness. It is probably the comet allusion
that Jude now intends, for not long before the final troubles at Jerusalem,
Halley's comet made an ominous appearance. "There was a star resembling a sword,
which stood over the city" (Josephus 6.5.3). A sign, surely! Those familiar with
Jude's epistle would not be slow to match up the figure with its fulfillment.
Those who promoted a return to Judaism and a re-enslavement to the Law would be
like such a comet... soon to be lost in the oblivion of darkness forever, when
the Temple at Jerusalem was no more!