The Lord Promises
1One hot summer afternoon while Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, the Lord appeared to him. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them, bowed with his face to the ground, 3and said, “Please come to my home where I can serve you. 4I'll have some water brought, so you can wash your feet, then you can rest under a tree. 5Let me get you some food to give you strength before you leave. I would be honored to serve you.”
“Thank you very much,” they answered. “We accept your offer.”
6Abraham went quickly to his tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread.” 7After saying this, he rushed off to his herd of cattle and picked out one of the best calves, which his servant quickly prepared. 8He then served his guests some yogurt and milk together with the meat.
While they were eating, he stood near them under the tree, 9and they asked, “Where's your wife Sarah?”
“She is right there in the tent,” Abraham answered.
10 One of the guests was the Lord, and he said, “I'll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son.”
Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent. 11Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah was well past the age for having children. 12 So she laughed and said to herself, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, will I really know such happiness?”
13The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age? 14 I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me. I'll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son.”
15Sarah was so frightened that she lied and said, “I didn't laugh.”
“Yes, you did!” he answered.
This reflection is based on two words that didn’t appear in today’s reading. Although the CEV Bible omits them, in the Hebrew text and other Bible translations, Abraham greeted the three men with “My Lord.”
Be alert to God’s presence
Abraham addressed the trio using the singular form of God’s name Adonai, saying “My Lord.”Now, adonai can also mean a human lord, but if he thought they were men, Abraham would have greeted them like Lot did in Genesis 19 as “My lords” or, as in the CEV, “Gentlemen.”
Unlike Lot, Abraham’s close relationship with the Lord allowed him to recognize his presence.
Respond quickly & wholeheartedly
When God appeared at his tent, Abraham quickly ran to him. He quickly ran and instructed Sarah to hurry and prepare a meal. He rushed to his herd and had his servants quickly prepare some meat. Finally, he personally served his guests.
Abraham spared no cost serving the Lord, dropping everything to give him his full attention.
What would you do if the Lord showed up unannounced on your doorstep? Would you recognize him?
Learn to be sensitive to God’s presence. Too often we misinterpret God’s presence as our intuition, our dreams, fortuitous circumstances, or even luck. But God’s Spirit is present in our inspired inner promptings, in divine appointments and circumstances, and in the Spirit’s revelation. Since Christ promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20), keep watching for him!
God won’t likely ring your doorbell, but he’s always present in other ways. Assume he is always present, give him your undivided attention, and when he asks you to do something, drop everything and serve him promptly.
Live so that one day he’ll say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (see Luke 19:17)
My Lord, you do things at just the right time, you are attentive to us, and you spared nothing in giving your Son to restore my relationship with you. May your Spirit make me fully alive to you, to always recognize and serve you faithfully. Amen.