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Entertaining Angels

Let mutual love continue.

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it

some have unknowingly entertained angels.

Hebrews 13: 1-2

Most of us are no doubt familiar with the story of Abraham hosting three young men who

turned out to be angels of the Lord—or somehow the Lord Himself, the Trinity. Abraham goes

out of his way to bathe their feet after what he assumes has been a hot, sweaty, dirty day of

walking through the desert. He enlists his wife, Sarah, to help prepare a hearty meal for the

travelers at their own expense. Abraham knows nothing of these men but treats them respectfully

and kindly. As a reward for their hospitality, the Lord reveals that Sarah will bear a son, even

though she is well past her childbearing years (Genesis 18). In other words, Abraham and Sarah

welcomed God into their home as an honored guest; in return, God granted them a son to

welcome into their lives.

What follows next is God’s revelation of the impending destruction of Sodom and

Gomorrah, a tale of hosts grossly mistreating their guests and being annihilated for it (Genesis

19). In the first story, an old man is chosen to be the father of a mighty nation in repayment of his

hospitality; in the second, a whole nation is wiped out for mistreating their neighbors. The

message is clear: how do we welcome those most in need of our assistance? Do we focus

exclusively on our own needs and wants, and even take advantage of people to meet these? Or do we go out of our way, sacrificing ourselves, to welcome strangers and friends in need?

The story of Abraham’s guests is taken up again in the New Testament Letter to the

Hebrews. The author warns the faithful not to “neglect hospitality, for through it some have

unknowingly entertained angels.” He goes on immediately after to advise that we be “mindful of

prisoners” and of the “ill-treated,” that we honor marriage and let go of our “love of money” in

order to “be content with what you have” and rely on God’s providence to provide. “For He has

said, ‘I will not forsake you or abandon you’” (Hebrews 13: 2-5). Overall, we are not to judge,

for we too are in need of saving. We, too, are only human. All of us are in need of a helping

hand, a refuge, a safe place to stay, be it literally or figuratively. All of us need God.


Take time to think, journal, or pray about who needs hospitality in your life. Maybe it’s a friend

or colleague going through a hard time who needs a listening ear. Maybe you’re being called to

volunteer your time or treasure with a local aid group welcoming migrants or the poor. Maybe

you have a Christ room in your house. Could any of these, friends or strangers, be God coming

to you in disguise? How would you treat them if they were?

It's important to recognize that we aren’t God and can’t save everyone! Another question to ask

yourself based on this is in what way do you need hospitality? Be gentle with yourself! We all

need to be received in some way, whether it’s getting up the courage to address your mental

health; acknowledging that you need help learning a new skill or balancing a new situation.

We’re all one body in Christ. None of us is meant to do everything alone. Where in your life do you need an angel to bring the Good News to you?

About the Author

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Molly Swayze now lives in Chicago, Illinois. She holds degrees in English and French and a Master’s in Christian Spirituality from Fordham. Her Master’s Thesis was on Dorothy Day and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She enjoys spinning yarn, knitting, reading, writing letters, cooking, and camping.

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