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Two years ago, on June 28 (2005), four Navy SEAL commandos were on a mission in Afghanistan, searching for a notorious al-Qaeda terrorist leader hiding in a Taliban stronghold.

As the battle ensued, three of the SEALs were killed, and the fourth, Marcus Luttrell was blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade and blown over a cliff. Severely injured, he spent the next four days fighting off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, and then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

They took Luttrell back to their village, where the law of hospitality, considered “strictly non-negotiable,” took hold. “They were committed to defend me against the Taliban,” Luttrell wrote, “until there was no one left alive.” (Lone Survivor – by Marcus Luttrell)

The Law of Hospitality is very strong in Middle Eastern culture, and has been that way for many millennia. It prompted Abraham in our reading from Genesis today to offer food and drink to his three visitors, the Lord and two angels.

It is what prompted Lot in the next chapter to protect the two angels in his home in Sodom from the men who wanted to rape them. While Lot’s idea of how to protect them is appalling to us — he offers his daughters to the crowd instead — the point is that the Law of Hospitality is so strong that it even supersedes the obligation to protect one’s own family.

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