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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ruth 2, 1-3.8-11.13-17

Naomi had a kinsman on her husband's side, well-to-do and of Elimelech's clan. His name was Boaz.

Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Let me go into the fields and glean ears of corn in the footsteps of some man who will look on me with favour.' She replied, 'Go, daughter.'

So she set out and went to glean in the fields behind the reapers. Chance led her to a plot of land belonging to Boaz of Elimelech's clan.

Boaz said to Ruth, 'Listen to me, daughter. You must not go gleaning in any other field. You must not go away from here. Stay close to my work-women.

Keep your eyes on whatever part of the field they are reaping and follow behind. I have forbidden my men to molest you. And if you are thirsty, go to the pitchers and drink what the servants have drawn.'

Ruth fell on her face, prostrated herself and said, 'How have I attracted your favour, for you to notice me, who am only a foreigner?'

Boaz replied, 'I have been told all about the way you have behaved to your mother-in-law since your husband's death, and how you left your own father and mother and the land where you were born to come to a people of whom you previously knew nothing.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. And when they came together, Yahweh made her conceive and she bore a son.

And the women said to Naomi, 'Blessed be Yahweh who has not left you today without anyone to redeem you. May his name be praised in Israel!

The child will be a comfort to you and the prop of your old age, for he has been born to the daughter-in-law who loves you and is more to you than seven sons.'

And Naomi, taking the child, held him to her breast; and she it was who looked after him.

And the women of the neighbourhood gave him a name. 'A son', they said, 'has been born to Naomi,' and they called him Obed. This was the father of Jesse, the father of David.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The chapter begins and ends with a conversation at home between Ruth and Noemi. In between there is a conversation of Ruth and Boaz. In this plot of friendship between Noemi and Ruth the Lord fulfils his salvation plan. We may say that the field of personal relationships, friendship and solidarity is a privileged one for God’s action. Ruth, in spite of being a woman and a foreign one at that, behaved in Boaz’s property as a tireless worker, with an absolutely extraordinary audacity. Not by chance was she like that; she was determined as a result of friendship. The link with Noemi was so strong that she took the initiative. Boaz was a rich and prestigious man, and noticed that foreign woman who behaved in such extraordinary way working on his properties. And even though a man usually goes out and searches for a woman, or at least wants to find a bride, in Ruth it is the opposite. Boaz told her that his servants were going to offer her drinks and that she could drink that water. He is the one who told her what he heard about her, what she did for Noemi. Boaz dealt with her in a different way from the beginning: he asked his servants to respect her and dealt with her as if she were already his wife. After she had been invited to stay, Ruth herself was amazed by Boaz’s interest, but above all by his speech. Boaz said to her: “How you left your father and mother and your native land…”, recalling the words of Abraham’s vocation: “a man leaves his father and his mother...” (Gen 2:24). And afterwards the support of God’s love: “the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge...” Ruth therefore goes back home to Noemi, who is still first in her affections and concerns. Before Ruth tells her the whole story, Noemi blesses the person who took notice of her, using a religious language that refers to God. Ruth however, corrects her and says it was Boaz. Noemi pretends not to grasp Ruth’s earthly point of view and continues to stress Ruth’s good fortune in the Lord’s perspective. Only afterward does she indicates the place Boaz has in her family and his function as go’el, or ransomer. When Noemi refers to God’s mercy for the living and the dead, she is thinking of Elimelech, her dead husband, and Kilion, Ruth’s husband, and together of the two of them, still alive.

Sunday Vigil