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Am I really called -
does God really
want me, of all
the people I love
or might love, to love
precisely and specifically
the one
I don't love?

Ever since I was small
the commandment to love
struck me as unreasonable,
love not being, so I thought,
not something we do, but something
done to us.
Also as a child
I found Christian love
somewhat repulsive,
disliking being loved
by someone I knew
didn't like me.

And what sort of love
is it
that doesn't love
the particularity
of the object of love
- not necessarily
everything about me
- my bad teeth, my
drunkenness - but certainly
not just everything that
doesn't distinguish me
from anyone else.

You will love your neighbour
as yourself - originally,
we are told,
you will love the non-Jew
living among you
as if he was a Jew, but then
Jesus came along
and turned it on its head
and said
you shall love the Samaritan
- the heretic Christian -
and, worse,
that the Christian
who loves the man
lying by the road,
knowing nothing of his
is better than
the sensible Christian
whose motives remain
forever unknown.
For why should the Scribe and the Pharisee
not be hurrying home
with medicines for a sick
wife or a child, their hearts torn
with emotion, an emotion
born of love, love
for the particularity
of a wife, or a child? 'You shall like
your neighbour as yourself' -
and Jesus elsewhere
calls on us
to hate our very selves.

And do we know that the Samaritan
actually loved the man
fallen by the wayside?
Shouldn't we understand
the parable as saying
you will act as if
you loved your neighbour, or again
you shall weep tears of compunction
for your inability to love ...