As we celebrate this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Gospel reveals a subtle message about Mary's "Yes" to the Lord at the Annunciation. Matthew's account of the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary, lists several mothers among the generations of fathers who are named. We learn that Ruth, wife of Boaz, was the great-grandmother of King David, patriarch of the royal line in which Jesus' birth was foretold. Of what significance is a great-grandmother in an exhaustive list of the generations from which Joseph was descended? Of great significance, in fact.
Ruth, we learn, was a Moabite and the widow of an Ephrathite from Judah. Perhaps she is most well known for her fidelity to her mother-in-law, Naomi: "Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God." This fidelity brought her to Bethlehem where she won the favor of Boaz, who permitted her to glean his fields for food. When asked why she deserved his kindness, he replied that he heard of her fidelity to her mother-in-law and her willingness to leave her native land and take refuge in Yahweh. Ruth eventually married Boaz and from their lineage came David.
Ruth said, "Yes" to the Lord being her God when she promised to follow Naomi. Her "Yes" took her to a foreign land, led her into another marriage -- one which proved very significant for the future of Israel and the coming of the Messiah! For Mary, her "Yes" was very similar; it took her places she could not have anticipated and brought her sorrow she could not imagine. Ruth's "Yes" gave us the great king of Israel, a man after God's own heart; Mary's "Yes" gave us the King of Kings, the Savior of the world - from the very heart of the God himself.
As we celebrate the birth of Mary, let us reflect on our own "yeses" to God. Most of us are not asked for a "Yes" as extraordinary as Ruth's and Mary's -- but each day we are asked to say "Yes" to the little challenges which God permits us to experience. Let us ask for the grace to respond as Ruth and Mary did, trusting that our "Yes" can be a source of grace for others in ways we may never know.
"A privilege which Mary had above all creatures is that no one else ever gave himself so perfectly or so absolutely to the Divine Majesty as she did. She was more perfectly obedient to the word of God than any other creature."
St. Francis de Sales