In the Lectionary

July 17, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Genesis 18:1-10a; Luke 10:38-42

Hospitality is not the exclusive domain of Christian communities. All cultures and religious communities have standards and norms, formal or informal, around hospitality, and these are constantly changing and evolving. Food, manner, and form all matter.

But hospitality is profoundly important within Christian communities, and much energy is spent trying to discern what constitutes a deep, holy practice of hospitality. This is more than cosmetic; hospitality in the most profound sense is the manifestation of inclusion and care. Human beings have a deep need to receive hospitality. And human beings reflect more fully the image of God when offering genuine hospitality to others.

God’s recurring manifestation in matters of hospitality pops up explicitly in two of the lectionary texts for this week, though one could argue that the theme is woven into the very fabric of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Old Abraham has a new identity and a new direction, but assurances that he and Sarah are on the right track have become more difficult to discern in the heat of the Mamre day. When God manifests mysteriously in the personage of three weary travelers, Abraham and Sarah go above and beyond in their practice of hospitality.