So far this week in our lectionary we’re reading from the Book of Judges, which warns about the barbarous society war can bring on. Our reading today describes the warrior Jephthah sacrificing his own daughter for his cause. (Judges 11:29-39) That’s what happens when a culture of war takes hold.
We end the week (Friday and Saturday) reading from the Book of Ruth, the story of a loyal woman. A foreigner not a Jew, Ruth remains faithful to Naomi, her mother-in-law, and returns with her to Bethlehem from the plains of Moab, where Jews sought refuge in time of famine.
In answer to Naomi who wants her to remain with her own people since her husband is dead, Ruth says: “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
Foreigners can become friends, trusted friends. Wars divide; violence kills. The loving response of Ruth is a welcome response to the Book of Judges.
In Bethlehem, Ruth meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi, as she gleans in his fields, and he marries her. They have a son, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. And from that great lineage, the Gospel of Matthew says, Jesus Christ is born.
Dear Father Victor, Jephthah and his daughter teach us the importance of listening to God so that our actions are not misplaced and they really are from God. When done in the light of God, they become a covenant with God, as in Abraham and Isaac. When not, they become war and violence and atrocities against innocent people. Thank you, Father Victor, for teaching us with words of a priest that penetrate and perpetuate the Word.