Grace to you!
We continue our reflection based on the story of Abraham. We read from Genesis 18:1-15, how Abraham showed hospitality to three “foreigners”. Here is the biblical excerpt of the encounter:
“He [Abraham] lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree… (Gn 18:1-4).
We see how Abraham addresses the three men both in the singular “My Lord…” (Gn 18:3) as well as in the plural “rest yourselves” (Gn 18:4). Some Fathers of the Church see this episode as a pointer to Trinity. Others, however, maintain it is the acknowledgement of the angelic figures.
In any case, Abraham was quick to show hospitality to three men he didn’t know, in that sense, they were strangers. In return, they confirmed divine promise in the life of Abraham and gave the exact time he will have a child. Without ignoring the historical significance of the event, there is another lesson to be learned too. Hospitality to another is hospitality to God.
This wouldn’t surprise us because in many ways, God has shown us that in the poor, the stranger, the widow, the orphan and indeed, in every person, we can see God. Recall the story of Saint Martin of Tours and how he cut his cloth in half and clothed a beggar in Amiens who was unclothed and shivering from cold. And how the Lord appeared to him in a dream endorsing what he did. “Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me.”
The Lord Jesus was specific in Scripture telling us; “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). It is, therefore, not surprising that hospitality to the three who were passing by the tent of Abraham, and him waiting on them is hospitality to God.
Mother Teresa Calcutta’s unique identification with the poor came to a point of heroism when she could substantively see in the poor Jesus himself crucified. In her testimony, she noted that every needy around her was Jesus himself beckoning. Hence, she hastened to help.
While Jesus provided healing to the servant of the Centurion and Peter’s Mother in law plus numerous others who were brought to him, in the Gospel of Matthew 8:5-17, we are to carry the same message of healing and hospitality to many in our neighborhoods who have no one to take them to Christ. We have to become Christ to them through our words and action.
We have been anointed through baptism to continue the saving work of God where we live and work. This saving work entails the salvation of the whole person, body, soul and spirit.
Hospitality opens doors for blessings. We are blessed ourselves for blessing others. In the case of Abraham, he who showed hospitality received from the Lord what he was asking for—a son. Also, hospitality is a blessing to others who because of us, can smile at least for a moment. Our hospitality is a blessing to the society because we become instruments through which the circle of poverty and despair in the world could be broken.
May God give us the grace to see in the poor, the needy and the stranger, the face of Jesus. May we hasten to help. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday Week 12 Ordinary Time of the Year A. Gn 18:1-15; Mt 8:5-17]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.