Homilette for Friday, August 21, 2009

Memorial of St. Pius X, pope

(Ruth 1:1.3-6.14b-66.22; Matthew 22:34-40)

The story of Ruth and Naomi from the first reading today is dear to Christians for at least two reasons. It demonstrates the importance of family to faith, and it relates part of the lineage of Jesus.

Sometimes young parents brought up as Catholic do not to baptize their infant children. When queried about their practice, they say that they don’t want to prejudice their children’s faith. That is, they want their children to make their own choices regarding religion. It probably does not occur to them that they are indeed prejudicing their children away from Catholic belief. After all, we believe that Baptism is the key to eternal life. Not baptizing infants and not bringing children to church relay the message that religion is not really important, that Baptism has little to do with eternal life, and possibly that eternal life is really a myth symbolizing the good life one wishes to live in the world. Ruth in today's Old Testament reading would no doubt disagree vehemently with these ideas. Family ties keep her close to the God of Israel. Or is it that the God of Israel keeps her close to her family? It is hard to say given the strong interconnection between family and religion.

Christians owe a huge debt to Ruth. Her dedication to the God of Israel leads her to marry Boaz. The two give birth to Obed, the grandfather of David, king of Israel, whose descendant is Joseph. Joseph, the husband of Mary, gives Jesus his name and his royal lineage.