Ruth of the Bible
…and her filial piety
By Apolinario Villalobos
A friend, who lives on the other side of world, Canada, and with whom I communicate only through the internet, unabashedly expressed her devotion to her departed husband whom she described with all words that were perhaps available in her mind while she was blogging the message for me. Another friend, posted on her timeline their faded nuptial photo with accompanying message that she will never change, short of saying, she will go on loving him, in a way… as if she was face to face with her husband. Another story is that of a former neighbor in Paranaque who worked as a beerhouse dancer in order to earn for the needs of her ailing mother-in-law, as her husband was killed in a traffic accident. She did not have even a single child by her husband, despite which, she persisted in taking care of her widowed, sickly and old mother-in-law. All of those made me try to recall a story in the Bible about a woman who practically founded her life on love and devotion. Finally, I remember the woman in the Bible …Ruth.
Ruth was a Moabite, a clan which God wanted eradicated from the face of the earth when He guided the Israelites to the Promised Land. But most importantly, Ruth’s blood flowed in the veins of Jesus Christ. Here’s why…tracing to Perez, who belonged to one of the tribes of Israel, thus, “Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David.” (Ruth 4: 18-22). Jesus Christ belongs to the House of David.
What I am trying to point out here is, despite Ruth’s being a pagan, she was so devoted to her mother-in-law, Naomi, that she stayed with her despite the tragedies the befell her. First to die was her husband, Elimelech, then her sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They belonged to the clan of Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah. The death of her two sons who married Moabite women triggered her decision to go back to Bethlehem, as they were living that time on the plateau of Moab. But the devotion of Ruth, one of the daughters-in- law to her mother-in-law was such that she did not abandon her. Instead, she did her best in showing how she was able to meld with the family of her husband. Being pretty and young, she could have married again when her husband died. She felt that she was needed by her aging mother-in-law, so that she persisted in being with her despite her effort to practically drive her back to her own people.
Back in Bethlehem, Ruth showed her diligence, reaping grains in season, and fortunate enough to have done it in the fields of Boaz, the kin of her husband. By virtue of the Jews’ practices during that time on inheritance of properties, Boaz was able to marry her. And as the story went, she provided a link in the Redeemer’s lineage.
The world today is full of temptations. For the weak woman, succumbing to any of them could just be easy and most often is even made justifiable by loose alibis. Matrimony that requires not only devotion of the couple to each other, the in-laws, and later on, their own children could crumble easily in the face of temptations. Legal separations are rampant, paving the way for the eventual divorce for those who can afford it. This can happen if selfishness will prevail, add to that the call of the carnal desire. It needs therefore, an extraordinary emotional stability and spiritual strength for a woman to become another Ruth. Blessed, therefore, are those women who personify her in this world that throbs with sins. The greatest reward of Ruth for her filial piety is her being mentioned every time the lineage of Jesus Christ is traced back to His ancestors, this despite her being a pagan. Her story shows that one need be a professed Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., to become pious. Ironically, some non-believers are more pious in their acts than those who profess their strong attachment to established religions.