Posted by: Pauline | October 12, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday October 18

Ruth 1:1-17

Famine is something that most of us know about only from images on TV or in magazines. We can only try to imagine the desperation of a man who leaves his home, his relatives, and even his country, taking his family to live among foreigners so that they will have enough food to eat. His wife ends up even more destitute, however, as first her husband dies, then her sons, leaving just her and her daughters-in-law to fend for themselves.

We can also only try to imagine what it was that made Ruth cling so determinedly to her mother-in-law, when Orpah acquiesced to Naomi’s urging to go back to her mother’s house. Had she formed a deeper bond with Naomi than with her own mother? Did she see the great need Naomi had for someone who would stay with her no matter what? Had Ruth learned to worship the God of Israel and knew that He was far greater than the gods worshiped in her homeland?

Whatever her motives, her words of loving loyalty to her mother-in-law are so striking and memorable that they have been used in countless marriage ceremonies to express that same sense of lifelong love and devotion.

Mark 3:31-35

Some people find fault with Jesus’ words and attitude in this passage, arguing that Jesus does not show proper respect to his own family, especially his mother. Of course, it is also true that his family seems to be showing little or no respect for Jesus as rabbi.

We don’t know much about Jesus’ relationship with his family at this point in his life, though there were obviously significant conflicts and misunderstandings about Jesus’ mission. What Jesus does make clear in this passage is that loyalty to God takes precedence over loyalty to family, and that those who love and serve God have a family relationship that is in some senses deeper than biological relationships.

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