The Heart of the Missionary Disciple
In the Book of Ruth, we hear of Naomi and her daughters-in-law, all widowed in Moab, and of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem. And in this issue of Catechist, we celebrate missionary discipleship, the core of authentic Christian service to which we all are called. How are the two linked? Let’s look at the relationship of Ruth and Naomi — one which centers on service, loyalty, and friendship borne not of duty, but of love.
From the Word
When Naomi tries to send her daughters-in-law back to their former homes, Ruth declares, “Do not press me to go back and abandon you! Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried” (Ruth 1:16-17).
■■ Did Ruth have an obligation to stay with Naomi after their husbands died?
■■ If her desire to stay was not out of duty, from where did it arise? (love)
■■ What was Ruth giving up by going with Naomi? (her own homeland and family and, she assumed, her chance to remarry)
■■ How did God take care of Ruth for her sacrifice of love? (brought her together with her new husband, Boaz) God is ever faithful!
1. Love and loyalty. Ruth could have let Naomi travel back to Bethlehem alone. Yet she was a loyal friend to her mother-in-law. Write “Friends Are Loving and Loyal” at the top of a large poster. Invite students to list ways they can love and be loyal to a friend.
2. Friends stick together. Each student draws a card that is half of a famous duo (Batman and Robin, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, Woody and Buzz, etc.) and finds his matching partner. Come up with tasks for each pair to accomplish in the classroom, and tell them they must link arms to do them together. Reward them with a treat for a completed list. Discuss how it is not always easy to stick together with someone, but loyalty has its rewards!
3. To serve. Brainstorm together some service projects the class can do to cap off the religious education year. Choose one and put a plan in place to accomplish it as missionary disciples, showing God’s love to someone in need.
New Testament Connection
In John 13:34, we hear from Jesus about a new kind of love: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
It is this kind of love to which we are called, to emulate the perfect love that Jesus has for each of us. Being disciples of Jesus Christ means sacrificing for the good of another, being loyal friends, and sharing our faith in word and deed. There could be no better way to end the school year: inspiring our classes to love and serve, in our own homes and in the world.
LYNN WEHNER is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her husband and their children in Connecticut.
PHOTO: PUBLIC DOMAIN
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April-May, 2018.