Homily for Mass, Deschatelets Residence, Ottawa

[Readings: Ruth 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17;  Ps 128;  Mt 23:1-12]

The story of Ruth and Naomi continues in our first reading.  And today we see how God honours the love that Ruth showed.  Ruth ends up finding a husband, she conceives, and so now Naomi has a grandson, whom she treats as if a son.  This child is an ancestor of Jesus.  The ‘name’ given to the child is beautiful: he shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.

 

This story reminds us of the important truth:  God notices everything – not just our sins – but all the good we do, however small, however hidden.  God honours that, and rewards it.  When it involves self-sacrifice, it is repaid a hundredfold.

 

The Gospel today contains the challenge that we must humble ourselves, so that God can exalt us.  We humble ourselves by taking up our crosses each day, choosing the lowest place, asking for help, admitting we’re wrong, asking forgiveness, living simply, being a fool (by the world’s standards) for Christ, associating with the lowly.  Ruth gives us an example of humility – gleaning in the fields – which means going through the field to get what’s left-over.  Gleaning is settling for what’s left over; not insisting on the best for ourselves;  accepting a ‘hello’ when someone else gets all the attention.  All who humble themselves will be exalted!  So true of Ruth.

 

These truths are also seen vividly in the life of St Bernard whom the church recalls today.  As you read the story of his achievements you see an amazing fruitfulness.

 

His enthusiasm for God was so attractive that when he entered the New Monastery of Citeaux, he brought 30 noblemen with him.  (Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a postulant who could do that?!)  His own monastery of Clairvaux which he ruled as abbot for most of his life thrived and attracted large numbers, including his five brothers and his widowed father.

 

He worked tirelessly, defending the church, and working for the unity of the church.  He spent much time humbling himself before God in prayer and penance, which fueled his active life but also brought much fruit in spiritual wisdom, of which we are still the beneficiaries.

 

As we consider the lives of the Biblical figure of Ruth, and St Bernard of Clairvaux, we are moved to praise God for his mighty works.  God rewards even our smallest efforts, and more than matches our own faithfulness.  God brings the unexpected, and can generate fruitfulness in us far beyond our imaginings.

 

Let’s pray today for the gifts of faithfulness and humility;  and as we prayed in the Psalm, may we see how the Lord blesses those who fear him.