An article in today's Washington Post talks about President Obama's Christian faith, and it highlights the parable of the Sheep and Goats:
President Obama was flying over Los Angeles in June as he listened to the first accounts from a courtroom in Charleston, S.C., where family members of nine dead parishioners who were gunned down at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church had just addressed the accused killer.
He heard the words of a daughter who had lost her mother: “May God forgive you. I forgive you.”
He listened to the plea of a mother who had lost her son: “Every fiber in my body hurts . . . but may God have mercy on you.”
The president paused, the thump of the helicopter’s blades filling the otherwise silent cabin. He had planned to tweet some statistics later that day comparing gun violence in the United States and other developed countries, but now he told his staff to cancel that.
Instead, in the Oval Office two days later, he seized upon something that seemed more important to him than any argument about gun control — an idea central to his political identity and his conviction that he could unify the divided nation.
“The essence of what is right about Christianity is embedded here,” he said of the families, according to notes taken during the meeting.
As Obama saw it, the parishioners and their families met the most demanding teachings of Christ. “They welcomed the stranger,” he said in the Oval Office meeting. “They forgave the worst violence.”An excerpt from the parable (Matthew 25:34-36)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’"It seems to me that Christmas is an especially good time to remember this parable about welcoming (and taking care of) the hungry, thirsty, stranger, unclothed, and prisoner.