What more could Christ declare unto us? How more could He stimulate the works of our righteousness and mercy, than by saying that whatever is given to the needy and poor is given to Himself, and by saying that He is aggrieved unless the needy and poor be supplied? So that he who in the Church is not moved by consideration for his brother, may yet be moved by contemplation of Christ; and he who does not think of his fellow-servant in suffering and in poverty, may yet think of his Lord, who abides in that very man whom he is despising. - Comments by Cyprian of Carthage (250AD) upon The Parable of the Sheep and Goats from Matthew 25 (borrowed from the facebook page of "The Christian Left"
This is "why" I became a priest. Sort of...
When I came out in high school, church became my safe place. And, it was a safe place because of the priest...who's response to my disclosure was, "oh, I thought you were going to tell me something bad". Her unabashed acceptance created a place of shelter for me and it allowed me to find the Christ within myself--in the midst of my own self hatred, her acceptance allowed me to "think of 'his' (sic) Lord" in myself.
And, when I was able to find Christ within myself, I became able to find Christ in others...no matter how loathsome they may seem to me. That said, it becomes impossible for me to find anyone loathsome. Mostly because I can see the shadow, the glimmer of light, of the Christ child--the potential once was, in the midst of the what is, followed by what may be.
When I see this, when I can imagine that child, I can imagine love for anyone and everyone--no matter what.
It's heady stuff, this kind of love, it demands relationship, it demands compassion and mercy. Because, who, when their child asks to nurse gives him a snake instead...(and yup, that's a biblical reference--not just something I made up ;)