The texts for next Sunday, November 11, feature the wisdom of two wise widows born centuries apart. Both provide touchstones that anchor active and thoughtful engagement with robust faith.
We get a peek into ancient welfare systems and ancient middle eastern tribal succession rites infused with the tenderness of interpersonal relationships involving an outsider, Ruth, who is welcomed into the intimacy of the inner circle. Directly through her came Israel’s eventual monarch of note, David, and then eventually to the one who would be recognised as Messiah, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. Hence grass-roots Christianity has always had a bias to recognising the Christ in the alien, the other, the stranger – a pertinent reminder in this age of so-called “border protection.”
Again, the Psalm echoes the acclamation of Ruth’s successful marriage to Boaz, affirming that the striving of the human spirit to overcome complicated, vexing and tragic circumstances falls within the purview of divine destiny, evoking a confidence in a continuous orientation to the ways of God revealed in Israel’s faith.
It is incorrect and disrespectful to think of Jesus’ role as High Priest superceding the sacrificial system of the original Hebrew covenant. Rather, Jesus completes it, bringing it to its zenith, its fulfillment. This is how it should be addressed in interfaith dialogue and understandings.
Echoing the wisdom and trust of Ruth’s Naomi, the widow at the temple treasury provides a non-conscious contrast against the show-off religiosity of those who wear the masks of piety and righteousness. That Jesus would point this out to his disciples after a strong verbal rebuke of the scribes whose talk doesn’t match their walk cements the immanence of his arrest, trial and execution.