Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Friday in the twentieth week of the Ordinary Time1

Friday of the 20 OT1

 

Readings: Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Mt 22:34-40.

1/ First Reading: RSV Ruth 1:1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years; 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband. 6 Then she started with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." 16 But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."


I. THEME: Love God and people

            In Vietnam and in times past, the daughter-in-law is fearful of her mother-in law and to serve her husband’s family because there are many harsh mothers-in-law. They think they must be hard on their daughter-in-law, because they were maltreated as such by their mother-in-law. Today, especially in European and American countries, the mother-in-law is fearful of her daughter-in-law, some even call their daughter-in-law as the “mother-in law!” They fear their daughter-in-law shall invent reasons to put them in the nursing home; especially fear that they shall divorce their son. Both extremities must be avoided, and both mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law need to change. When they treat each other as such, they didn’t keep two most important commandments as Jesus teaches, “Love God and others.” Moreover, by acting as such, they put their son or husband in a difficult situation to choose “either mother or wife.” He can’t choose either one because God commands him to choose both.

            Today readings provide materials for all people to meditate, especially mothers and daughters-in-law. In the first reading, the author gives us an excellent exemplar about the relationship between Naomi, the mother-in-law and Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Naomi must treat Ruth in a generous way so that even when her son passed away, Ruth could still said to her, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” In the Gospel, when a scribe came and tested Jesus with the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law”? Jesus clearly declared to him: to love God above all and to love neighbors as yourself.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

1.1/ Naomi’s difficult situation: The author reported her difficult situation as follows, “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years; and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband.”

            Naomi can’t live as a widow in a foreign land, so she decided to leave Moab to return to Bethlehem, her native country because she heard that God visited His people and gave them bread there.

1.2/ Ruth’s love and reverence for Naomi, her mother-in-law.

            (1) Naomi’s advice for her two daughters-in-law: Before returning to her country, Naomi called her two daughters-in-law and said to them that since her two sons passed away, and she has no other son for them to marry, so they have no obligation to follow her. They can stay back in Moab, their country, and remarry if they would like to.

            (2) The reactions of two foreign daughters-in-law: Both of them “lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Naomi said to Ruth, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

            This is the statement which is deserved to put in the historical book by the Israelites due to the following reasons:

            - A special relationship between the mother and the daughter-in-law: This kind of relationship used to be bitter. In order for Ruth to say these words, especially when her husband no longer lives, Naomi must gain Ruth’s special sympathy.

            - A good relationship between the Israelites and the Moabites: Jewish tradition has a habit of insulting other nations; they don’t want to have any relation with the Gentiles. In order for Ruth to say, “Your people are my people,” required Naomi to treat her daughter-in-law as a Jew. Moreover, this is also a prophecy which predicts that when the Messiah comes, there shall no longer a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, as Paul described.

            - The special relationship between them led Ruth to believe in Naomi’s God, “Your God is my God.” Naomi’s life became an exemplar for Ruth to believe in God.

2/ Gospel: Two most important commandments

 

2.1/ Love God above all: “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law"? And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

            This is the first of the Ten Commandments which God gave to the Israelites through Moses on Sinai Mountain. The Israelites calls this commandment “Shema.” To help them to remember it, they write it on paper and wear it as the phylactery on their forehead, or put them into two little boxes and wear them on their arms every time they pray. Moreover, they also put it on the doorposts and the city gates to remind all people who pass by it. Such an important commandment which is put everywhere and the scribes and Pharisees still asked Jesus! There is no reason other than they insulted Jesus.

            This commandment, though is easily remembered, but is difficult to fulfill for both the Israelites and the Christians today. The Israelites knew they must love God above all, but still made a golden calf to worship or to chase after foreign gods. Many of today Christians still put other things above God, such as: money, fame, position and pleasure. They can skip Sunday worship to work, to see football games or to be on cruises.

 

2.2/ To love neighbors as yourself: Jesus continues, “And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

            These two important commandments can’t be separated but depended on each other; whoever loves God, also loves his neighbors; the reverse is also true. St. John clearly stated, “If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - When the daughter-in-law loves her mother-in-law, she loves her husband. The fourth of the Ten Commandments teaches her to honor both her parents and her husband’s parents.

            - When the mother-in-law loves her daughter-in-law, she loves her own son. A mother shouldn’t put her son in difficult situation which is to choose either his mother or his wife. God wants him to both honor his parent and be loyal to his wife until death.

            - To love God means to love others and to keep all His commandments.

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