One of the spiritual principles that often speaks to me is: “it’s not about me.” It’s a spiritual principle I have to remind myself of often, because in our human weakness, we’re always thinking about ourselves first. But here today, we have two wonderful Scriptural examples of this beautiful spiritual principle. First we have Ruth, a foreigner, who came to the aid of her mother-in-law Naomi in her time of need. Naomi had no heir, and her son, Ruth’s husband, had died. This left both of them in a very precarious position. Neither of them had a male figure in their lives to afford them any legal status in that society, so that was very dangerous for them in that day and age. And they were in the middle of a famine, which made things all the more frightening. So Ruth could have gone her own way, returned to her land, and been safe, but she doesn’t: she takes care of Naomi anyway, offering to glean ears of grain so that they’ll have something to eat. She didn’t have to do that, she could have left her mother-in-law high and dry, but she didn’t.
Boaz, too, didn’t have to be so welcoming to Ruth. It was expected in Jewish law that after the harvest, whatever was left on the stalks was to be left for the poor. But he didn’t have to provide her with water, and see that the men didn’t take advantage of her. But he did.
All of this prefigures what Jesus was telling the people about the Pharisees in today’s Gospel. These Pharisees did everything to be seen, because it was all about them. They had the law, so they were teaching the right things, but not for the right reasons. Do what they say, Jesus tells them, and not what they do. Because it’s not about us.