Year C: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Genesis 19: 1-10
The link between the Gospel and First reading is, perhaps, hospitality.
The meeting between Abraham and the three men provided the inspiration for the Rublev icon of the Trinity - sometimes known as the Icon of Hospitality.
Hospitality was - and is - a strong feature of life in many cultures.
To welcome and honour a guest is seen as an honour - as Abraham says, “kindly do not pass your servant by”.
He calls on Sarah to prepare bread - kills one of his finest calves - and offers them to his guests along with milk and cream. This is not a half-hearted attempt at hospitality - Abraham is offering the best of what he has.
What he and Sarah could not have expected were the words spoken by one of the strangers - “I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.”
What is not recorded here is Sarah’s response. Being an old woman, long past child-bearing, her reaction is to laugh - how can such a thing happen? But the Lord Himself replies: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”
When God visits His people, good things happen to them. The problem is that He does not always turn up with a lapel badge saying “God” or send messages with people who are readily identified as angels...God works, as they say, in mysterious ways - and it is often only with hindsight that we can see His hands at work.
Perhaps the writer of Hebrews should have the last word in relation to the Gospel and First reading: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
What does it mean for me?
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