Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Ru 1:1,3-6,14b-16,22; Ps 146:5-10; Mt 22:34-40

Psalm 146 proclaims that the LORD God is blessed above all it is he who is the help of Jacob and all those whose hope is in him, the One who made heaven and earth and all that is in them.  Amid great political controversy and theological debate we all draw from the strength of our prayer, inspired by Saint Paul that we might join with the LORD so that all things might be restored in Christ.  The LORD sets captives free, free from destruction and war in every generation.  Blessed be the Name of the LORD, our God.


The LORD who gives food to the hungry reveals his faithfulness to Ruth, the ancestor of the Lord Jesus.  During the time of the judges there was a great famine and Elimelech, a man from Bethlehem of Judah, departed with his family to the plateau of Moab seeking refuge from the famine.  His wife, Naomi, survived the deaths of her husband and two sons, who had married Moabite women.  When she was alone and powerless, Naomi told her two daughters in law to remain in Moab while she went home to Judah where the LORD had visited his people and given them food.  Her one daughter in law, Orpah kissed her and went back to her people and her god. Ruth refused to depart from her mother in law.  Her refusal is one of the most beautiful and persuasive speeches found in the Old Testament. Ruth argued, “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.”  This faithfulness to her mother in law, this conversion to the faith of the Chosen People is a treasured memory of all who follow the Lord Jesus the descendant of Ruth a convert to the faith of her mother in law Naomi.  In their poverty these woman returned to the Promised Land and found the blessing of the LORD.  Their relationship was full of hope in the faithfulness of the LORD who fulfills through them the hope of everyone who hungers and thirsts for the Savior.  This Savior is the LORD’s own Son from all eternity; he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and he gives his own flesh and blood to fulfill our deepest hunger and thirst.


Any power in heaven or on earth, any power that does not come from love and leads to love is destructive power, dark and demonic power.  It is not the power of our King, Jesus the LORD, nor of our Queen, Mary the Mother of God.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees, who historically would never have come together in public or private, were united against the Lord Jesus, and they were very public about it. Together, they used all the power they could to oppose the Lord and prove that he was dangerous and threatening to the faith of Israel.  Indeed, he was no threat; he was and still is the fulfillment of the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Naomi, and Ruth.  The holy covenant that the LORD made with his people, all the law and the prophets are represented and fulfilled in the ministry, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When a scholar of the law tested him about the greatest commandment in the law, the Lord responded with a one-word answer, “love”.  To love God, completely and totally, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment of The LORD. Such a simple and uncomplicated commandment is not beyond the reach of everyone in Israel, indeed of people in every time and every kingdom.  The divine simplicity of this directive makes holiness accessible to everyone here at this liturgy and to everyone we will meet after Mass today.  The people at the time of the ministry of the Lord Jesus no longer needed to depend upon the Pharisees and the Sadducees, rather, they could depend upon the Lord Jesus who taught them the true meaning of obedience and the power it brings into our lives.  Now, we have the power to freely offer ourselves in sacrifice for love; now, we have the power to fulfill the command of the LORD in spirit and truth all the days of our lives.