"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2
Have you ever paid for a stranger's coffee at Starbucks? Paid the toll for the person behind you on the highway? Given a stranger money for food or gas? Stood up for someone you didn't know that was being bullied or harassed?
Has a stranger ever extended themselves to you in such a way?
In the parable of the Sheep And The Goats, Jesus lists welcoming the stranger as one of the ways we are deemed righteous in the sight of God. This is a way of living and an outreach we need to embody every moment of every day no matter where we are: work, school, out to dinner, on the street, traveling domestically or abroad...there is never a moment we can't reach out to a stranger and extend compassion in some way.
When we were in Italy last year, we went for a walk and found ourselves lost and on someone's private property. There was a rather frightening dog barking at us and we found ourselves at a locked gate. The owner of the property came out of his home, kindly unlocked his gate, and helped us on our way. He could have grumbled at us, he could have forced us to turn back the way we came, but instead, he extended hospitality to us and helped us. Wouldn't we want someone to treat us in such ways no matter where we are or who we are? Shouldn't we model this ourselves? He was our angel that day, and that's just the point from Hebrews today.
This passage from Hebrews reminds us of an important point about kindness and hospitality to strangers (or anyone, really): when we extend ourselves that way, we are extending ourselves to God's presence among us as well. We often talk about the ways that God's spirit lives within each of us, and Jesus reminds us in Luke 17:21 "...behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." When we are kind to others, when we extend compassion and care to those whom we love or those whom we've never met, we honor the Spirit that resides within each of us and binds us together.
How can you be an angel for someone today?
Loving God, may we always extend your sacred compassion, the compassion that resides within each of us, to all of our sisters and brothers whether we know them or not.