The Letter to the Hebrews 13: 1 refers in part back to Genesis 18:1-15. The apostolic teaching here surrounds “hospitality”. The Greek φιλοξενίαν (Rom 12:13 BGT) means “to love strangers”. Love here is the Greek for a “brotherly love.” The teaching is that strangers are brothers and sisters not foreigners.
This perspective on hospitality became a virtue for Israel because when meeting a stranger it reminded them of when they were “strangers in a foreign land” (Lev 19:34). Strangers also reminded Israel of their present situation as sojourners upon earth. (Ps 39:13).
People need to be welcomed and received in brotherly love in the name of our heavenly Father who loves all His children. (Deut 10:18ff).
In the story of the final judgment which will occur as part of our Lord’s second Coming Jesus explains that part of our particular judgment will be in how we handled the “strangers” that came into our life. That is how did we practice genuine hospitality throughout our life. Through and in the stranger, Jesus has either been welcomed into our life and stewardship or we have sent Him away. (Matt 25:35, 43)
This occurred as His birth where there was no room for Him to be born…. And it remained this way through His life. “And Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Mat 8:20 RSV). In fact right up to the very end of His life on earth He was denied understanding and a place in people’s lives. In the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel we are reminded of this sad fact. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (Joh 1:1 ESV) Jesus is sent away, by those who recognized Him or do not recognized, just as He came into the world.
Christians are called to see every person as Jesus sees them. He explains the blessing that comes with this new sight. “Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (Mat 10:30 ESV)
We must be ready…
The spirit of Christian hospitality is a spirit of “readiness.” The parable of the watchful servant (Luke 12:35-40) reminds each of us to keep our gates unlocked and ready to be opened when Christ comes knocking. The hospitality of Christians is to reverse the roles and become servant instead of one who wants to be served. He shares what he has relying fully upon God’s generosity to care for him. Amen