First Reading: Genesis 18:1-10
Abraham Welcomes the Lord
1 YHWH appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, "My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please don't go away from your servant. 4 Now let a little water be fetched, wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 I will get a morsel of bread so you can refresh your heart. After that you may go your way, now that you have come to your servant."
They said, "Very well, do as you have said."
6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly prepare three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes." 7 Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant. He hurried to dress it. 8 He took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree, and they ate.
9 They asked him, "Where is Sarah, your wife?"
He said, "See, in the tent."
10 He said, "I will certainly return to you when the season comes round. Behold, Sarah your wife will have a son."
World English Bible
How do we welcome the Lord? Do we look and see if he is coming? Or do we mind our own business, waiting for God to surprise us? Do we act or do we react? Today's reading tells us to act.
As a nomad, Abraham and his family lived in tents, as they traveled with their grazing herds in the desert. The few who lived in the harsh deserts of Judea depended upon each other for survival. Visitors were treated very well, for they brought companionship and help for the host. The practice of hospitality was highly prized in Abraham's time.
As a merchant, Abraham looked for opportunities to trade. Any visitors meant an possibility to trade for materials he needed. No wonder he ran to greet three strangers and begged them to stay! [18:2-3]
As a gracious host, Abraham prepared and served a gourmet meal. [18:6-8] In return, the leader promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son. Abraham who graciously gave the meal received a gift that was so much greater. He had a heir, one who could help manage the family flocks and the family trade, one who could take care of Abraham and Sarah in their old age, one who could carry on the family name and the family memory.
Who gave him this promise? The Lord [18:1] and his two companions: His "goodness and kindness" (from Psalm 23:6), His "light and truth" (Psalm 43:3), and His "justice and judgement" (Psalm 97:2). (The pairs of divine qualities are given human form by Hebrews; Christians see the wanderers as the three persons of the Trinity.) In other words, God in his fullness gave Abraham the promise of a son. As God promised, so it happened.
Abraham did not hesitate to welcome strangers. And through his welcome, Abraham received the Lord and his promise.
How can we be gracious to others and open to the Lord?