August 23, 2019
by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 423

Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22
Psalms 146:5-6ab, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10
Matthew 22:34-40

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I think today’s readings have something to say about what it means to be family. Naomi goes with her husband and sons to a foreign land, and the sons marry women, Orpah and Ruth, from Moab where they are living. But the husband dies, and then the sons die too and Naomi is alone in a foreign land with no family. Orpah stays in Moab and goes back to her family after her husband dies, and Naomi tells Ruth she should also go back to her family and Naomi will go back to where she is from so her family can help her. But Ruth says that they are family now and Ruth will go with Naomi and help her. I wrote in my last reflection about my husband’s sister and compared us to Martha and Mary.  My husband and I were only married three years when he died, but his family continued to include me in holidays and remembered my birthday. And I made sure to remember his mother’s birthday and to give her a gift on Mother’s day, since he wasn’t around to do it. I was sort of surprised but pleased that they continued to include me after Gordi was gone, and always thanked them for thinking of me like family. And they said, but you are family. Like Ruth says to Naomi, we are family, and we will stay together and help each other.

In the Gospel Jesus says the most important commandment is to love God with everything you have, and the next most important is similar, it’s to love your neighbor as yourself. We are all made in God’s image. We are all brothers and sisters in the bigger scheme of things. We are all family, and we should treat each other with love and respect and help each other. Family is not just who shares your blood, it’s also who shares your space and your experience and your love. When I married Gordi I got his family too, and my life is richer because of that. And I’m glad that even though I lost him, I still have in my life people who knew him and loved him and we share that. Naomi and Ruth are family by marriage and have a shared connection of love. But we need an even broader definition of family. Loving our neighbor as ourselves makes the whole world our family and we should treat all our brothers and sisters with love.

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