By NEMS Daily Journal
Each year’s Easter becomes a point of renewal in people looking for clarity and new understandings in personal explorations and journeys of faith.
The powerful, substantive symbolism of life triumphing over death renews energy and commitment, becoming an eye-opening and heart-changing possibility if understood as more than grand, colorful ritual.
The light of Easter faith shows things differently, improves perceptions inwardly, and recasts conventional thinking.
Opening minds to new thinking – as history has proved since before people measured time in a way the 21st century understands – is harder than opening eyes because people retain the ability to deny, even in the face of compelling evidence.
As Jesus noted during his brief public ministry in the relative snippet of thoughts he shared that made it into the New Testament, his was a mission in fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and he cited both to make his case among those who followed and those who opposed him.
In the genealogy of the Gospels there’s a definite linkage between Jesus and the Old Testament character, Ruth, a Moabite woman whose loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, led to her marriage to Boaz, seen as an act of grace that defied convention.
Some commentators see the Book of Ruth as the narrative where people go above and beyond the Law, a story of faithfulness, blessing and belonging, the essence and foreshadowing of God’s love incarnate in human beings.
Ruth was a widow, and she went beyond every requirement and expectation in caring for and honoring her late husband’s mother.
Ruth became a migrant, moving to an alien, foreign culture with Naomi, who returned to her own people – in Bethlehem.
A story of chance and providence unfolds in which Ruth’s virtues and her attractiveness caught the eye of Boaz, who was Naomi’s relative by marriage.
Ruth joined harvest gleaners – women who gather what’s left behind.
Boaz saw her and asked his supervisor who she was.
Picking up the story in Ruth 2, this is how grace and faith work in people’s lives:
“The young man who was overseeing the harvesters answered, ‘She’s a young Moabite woman, the one who returned with Naomi from the territory of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean so that I might gather up grain from among the bundles behind the harvesters.’ She arrived and has been on her feet from the morning until now, and has sat down for only a moment.’
“Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Haven’t you understood, my daughter? Don’t go glean in another field; don’t go anywhere else. Instead, stay here with my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that they are harvesting and go along after them. I’ve ordered the young men not to assault you. Whenever you are thirsty, go to the jugs and drink from what the young men have filled.’
“Then she bowed down, face to the ground, and replied to him, ‘How is it that I’ve found favor in your eyes, that you notice me? I’m an immigrant.’ Boaz responded to her, ‘Everything that you did for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death has been reported fully to me: how you left behind your father, your mother, and the land of your birth, and came to a people you hadn’t known beforehand. May the Lord reward you for your deed …”
The reward, unconventional and gracious, was Boaz’s eventual marriage to Ruth. One of their several times great-grandsons was David, of the House of David, the family of Jesus of Nazareth, in whose life the whole world became newly related and reconciled.