These few verses tucked away in the Old Testament might seem an odd choice for the lectionary. After all, what could possibly be ‘gleaned’ from a genealogy? One of the things I love about Holy Scripture is that, even in the unlikeliest places, it drips of grace throughout all of its contents.
Ruth was from the country of Moab – a place outside of Israel that did not worship Yahweh. Ruth had married a Jewish man, but was widowed at a relatively young age. She firmly decided to go to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, who was originally from Bethlehem. Since both were widows, they were poor and dependent upon the mercy of relatives. In a wonderful story of redemption and love, Ruth is noticed by Boaz and the narrative concludes with the two of them being married. Ruth, from a pagan land, goes from near destitution to wealth, and from being invisible in the world to somebody we know and remember several millennia later.
The genealogical postscript we have informs us that King David’s great grandparents are Ruth and Boaz. The line does not end there but goes directly to the birth of Jesus Christ. Ruth, the widowed woman from a non-descript family outside of Israel ends up being a prominent mother in the most significant blood line of all time.
We, too, were once outside of God. But we have been brought near through the blood of Jesus. Grace takes what is seemingly far-fetched and turns it into a reality. Mercy looks at the improbable and the impossible and laughs in its face. I can only imagine the immense gratitude and joy Ruth had in her life as she experienced such amazing grace as to be given attention and included in the life of the one true God. Let us be mindful and give time today to reflect on this very same God who delights in showing mercy and express our praise to him with heartfelt thanksgiving.
Merciful God, there is no god like you – giving grace where it is needed. Thank you for saving me and bringing me into the life that is truly life through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.