Today we begin the book of Ruth. The book is notable because it tells the story of Ruth who will be the great-grandmother to King David (and therefore an ancestor of Jesus). What is particularly important is that Ruth was a Moabite woman. Recall that Moab, a son of Lot, who was a nephew of the Israelite patriarch Abraham. They had split off from the line of Abraham and became an adversary to Israel. Thus, by the two lines being reunited here and leading to the birth of the great king David we see the lines reunited. The episode gives us a window into the ancient Jewish mindset. The people were continuously distinguishing themselves from the rest of the world yet they would have had a sense that ultimately God’s plan was to reunite the lines of the various descendants of Abraham.
In today’s New Testament reading we see an often over looked passage. Jesus takes the Apostles up on a mountain. In the bible, important things happen on mountains – Abraham and the sacrifice of Issac, the giving of the 10 Commandments, one of the temptations in the desert, the beatitudes, the Transfiguration of Jesus, the Mount of Olives, and the Golgotha were the Crucifixion occurs. In this episode Jesus “appoints” the twelve Apostles.
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.
In our minds we often picture the twelve Apostles being called. The have an encounter with Christ, they drop what they are doing and they follow him. We tend to think of them becoming Apostles by osmosis, or happenstance or just by being around Jesus and de facto becoming the twelve. But here we are told that Jesus actually “appoints” them and gives them authority. Appointing suggest some type of ceremony and official in vesture of office.
The next important episode we read is the famous scene where Jesus declares all that do the will of his Father are his brothers and sisters and even his mother.
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Some people try to rely on this verse to diminish the role of Mary. They suggest that this shows the Jesus did not consider his mother to be any more special than anyone else. That would be an over reaching interpretation of the verse. First, it would violate the Commandment of honoring your father and mother. More importantly, Jesus says “whoever does the will of God is my … and mother”. There was no person ever that more perfectly did the will of God than your mother and mine, the Blessed Virgin Mary. We know from the Gospel of Luke that Mary’s answer to the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation was, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.” She submits herself fully to the will of God. Thus, in a sense, she is twice Jesus’ mother. She is his biological mother and she is a spiritual mother to him in the manner Jesus alludes to in this verse.