Naomi and Ruth have come to a crossroads. We encounter them there, at this intersection of loyalty and truth, carrying the weight of their expectation. It is an invitation for us to focus on God at the center.
For a long time, I never questioned the threads of these things, but at some point, I was confronted with what I saw as choosing loyalty or truth. It was not easy. God, however, is both loyalty and truth, along with the sum of all expectation—something the story of Naomi and Ruth helps me understand. The tale of these two women might seem to be about a caring daughter-in-law and her vulnerable mother-in-law. The “normal” thing for Ruth to do would have been to go back to her own people, just as Orpah did. Yet, despite the pervasive power of cultural custom, Ruth elects to stay with Naomi. It is a sweet story, but going deeper, it is about the power of God’s love sitting at this junction.
Loyalty often translates as looking out for our preferred people—family, faith community, or coworkers. Right now, many people believe we need to take care of ourselves, put our own needs first, and prioritize our own religion, country, or culture. Ruth’s determination to stay with Naomi shows us a different path, one in which we choose the way of God, even if it is unprecedented. The most unlikely choice of all might be to take heed of the commandment that Jesus focuses on in the Gospel: Love the Lord. Love your neighbor. This is the truth and loyalty that God seeks, all of us bound by love.