The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, ‘My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’ And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
“Southern Hospitality” is legendary. People go out of their way to meet the needs of their guests and make them feel welcome. One of the first things hosts do upon the arrival of a guest is to offer her/him a cool drink, and guests never leave without having something to eat.
Abraham must have been from the south. Upon seeing the three travelers, he immediately arranges for water and a dinner of veal parmesan, milk and Sarah’s special cakes. And this for people he didn’t even know. (However, note that he never invited them into his tent, and they ate the meal al fresco.)
Though the writer of Hebrews never mentions Abraham by name, he reminds his readers to show strangers hospitality–after all, they just might be divine messengers.
Questions for Reflection:
There is an old saying (attributed to the Irish) that goes, “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.” But there’s another saying, “Stranger rhymes with danger for a reason.” Which saying do you tend to practice? Do you get excited about meeting new people, or are you suspicious?
If you tend lean toward “Stranger Danger”, what might motivate you to practice “Stranger Love?” The possibility of angels? Something else?
What if God was one of us? Alanis Morissette asked us to consider the possibility.