Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ruth 1, 1-6.14-16.22

In the days when the Judges were governing, a famine occurred in the country and a certain man from Bethlehem of Judah went-he, his wife and his two sons -- to live in the Plains of Moab.

The man was called Elimelech, his wife Naomi and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah. Going to the Plains of Moab, they settled there.

Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she and her two sons were left.

These married Moabite women: one was called Orpah and the other Ruth. They lived there for about ten years.

Mahlon and Chilion then both died too, and Naomi was thus bereft of her two sons and her husband.

She then decided to come back from the Plains of Moab with her daughters-in-law, having heard in the Plains of Moab that God had visited his people and given them food.

They started weeping loudly all over again; Orpah then kissed her mother-in-law and went back to her people. But Ruth stayed with her.

Naomi then said, 'Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god. Go home, too; follow your sister-in-law.'

But Ruth said, 'Do not press me to leave you and to stop going with you, for wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

This was how Naomi came home with her daughter-in-law, Ruth the Moabitess, on returning from the Plains of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If the book of Judges is characterized by violence and war-- in order to conquer the promised land--the book of Ruth is, instead, marked by peace and encounter. The text opens with the story of the return of Naomi to Bethlehem, where she left with her husband and children to emigrate to the land of the Moabites, a people that was believed to be an oppressor of Israel at the time of the Judges (Judges 3). In Moab she can finally eat and survive, but she lost her husband and two children. She decides to go back: she had things but she was alone. It is in this context of loneliness which begins the story of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite woman who, although she could have remained among her people, chose to stay with Naomi and to follow her when she decided to return to Bethlehem. The other daughter in law did not do it and she remained tied to her own. Ruth, because of her love for Naomi, gives up her identity as a Moabite--her culture and the religion of her family--and she chooses to live with the people, the culture, the religion and the family of her friend Naomi. The latter does not fail to point out the difficulties of such a choice, but Ruth has no doubts: “Where you live ... Where you go ... your people ... your God ... I want to live”. Naomi arrives in Bethlehem, but even if she is without her husband she has a new friend. Seeing Naomi and her friend, the citizens of Bethlehem show more distrust than welcome, so much so that Naomi wants to change her name: “Call me no longer Naomi (sweet), call me Mara (bitter). … I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” In truth she was not “empty”. The friendship with Ruth was her new wealth. And the story told in this little book shows the richness of friendship. Ruth grows more and more aware of her choice. She knows that friendship is not something that can be taken for granted in life; it must be built up and pursued with tenacity, determination, and it requires growth in each other’s personal consciences. In fact, at the beginning she is called the “foreigner,” then the “servant” (2:13), then the “worthy woman” (3:11), and finally “the woman who is coming into your house” (4:11), comparing her to the “mothers” of Israel. Ruth, for the strength of her friendship, becomes the hope of Naomi and Boaz.