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Reflecting on the Second Sunday after Pentecost: Two Days after Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 119:41-48
Old Testament: Genesis 17:1-27
Epistle: Hebrews 13:1-16
Psalter: Psalm 40:1-8
Old Testament: Hosea 8:11-14; 10:1-2
Epistle: Hebrews 13:1-16
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Let mutual affection continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them, those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured (Hebrews 13:1-3).
Welcome and hospitality are two different things. To be sure, hospitality includes welcome, but to welcome does not necessarily mean to be hospitable. In the ancient world of the Bible, hospitality was paramount. It was central. It was almost a requirement in the Ancient Near East to be hospitable, even to strangers in need. By Jesus’s day, Jews and Christians were known for their hospitality. Hospitality means more than welcome. It means to treat someone, even a stranger with humanity. Hospitality requires the faithful to host people in their homes even with a moment’s notice. Welcome means that we greet people with a kind phrase—”Hello, how are you?” Hospitality adds, “Please join us for dinner.”
For the writers of the New Testament, hospitality is not an option for those who follow Jesus. For ancient Jews, the supreme example of hospitality was the welcome and hospitality of Abraham shown to the heavenly visitors in Genesis 18:1-8. In the New Testament, hospitality is shown in the Good Samaritan who takes the beaten and bruised man to an inn and pays for his accommodations and care (Luke 10:25-37).
Christians should be known by their hospitality. It is not sufficient to welcome, but to be hospitable. Is the practice of welcoming even the strngers into our lives a regular practice? Do we treat those in need in the image of God? Do we make it known to those on the margins that they are one of us? Do we provide for them, not just physical needs, but care, comfort, support, and love?
For the followers of Jesus, hospitality should be practiced even when it’s inconvenient; for the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that in our hospitality, we might be entertaining angels without knowing it. If that is true, then in our showing of hospitality, we will follow in the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah.
PRAYER: Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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