Abraham's encounter with the mysterious guests at Mamre teaches us many things about the centrality of gestures of hospitality for community. I have gleaned but six characteristics that enable us to develop our life together as Christians and beyond the boundaries of Christianity. First, the mere appearance of the other possesses a gratuitous quality. Second, the appearance of the other reorients our gaze away from self-interest and toward the other's needs. Third, a reoriented gaze opens up new perspectives on reality. The last three characteristics relate directly to developing our life together beyond the initial encounter. Gestures of hospitality create a space of profound sharing, but a space and a sharing that respect the mystery of identity. Last, community develops not as it grows outward but as its members develop more profound interior lives.


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