I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!
Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
I will thank the Lord with all my heart
in the meeting of the just and their assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
to be pondered by all who love them. (R./)
He makes us remember his wonders.
The Lord is compassion and love.
He gives food to those who fear him;
keeps his covenant ever in mind. (R./)
He has sent deliverance to his people
and established his covenant for ever.
Holy his name, to be feared.
His praise shall last for ever! (R./)
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal lie?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Special revelation and novelty mark the letter to the Galatians, where Paul insists on the central tenet of his gospel, namely that among those who belong to Christ there is no distinction between Jew or Greek, slave or free person, male or female, for all are united in Jesus (Gal 3:28). This conviction is the keystone of Paul's entire ministry. It came to him from God, directly, not through the words of Peter or anyone else. It made him the apostle to the gentiles. Jesus had sent his twelve apostles to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 10:5), but Paul's ministry was mainly to foreign nations, since the Gospel was meant for the whole world.
There's another kind of revelation in today's gospel. A lawyer-theologian asked Jesus "what must I do to inherit eternal lie?" although he already knew that the answer was by loving God and our neighbour. He then wanted to refine the answer by asking the follow-up question, "Who is my neighbour?" Jesus replied with his famous parable of the good Samaritan. This was something totally new, since the Samaritans were despised and rejected by the Jews as heretics and renegades.
Who are the "Samaritans" in our lives? Are there groups that we dislike or despise, who seem to be ignorant and willfully so, who may even have harmed us or deceived us. Think again, says Jesus, and try to see them in a new light. You may discover that they have something to teach you. They have their own way of doing good, and following God's holy will. Beware of being biased or self-righteous, so sure of ourselves that we miss grace and goodness in those who seem outsiders, alien to us.
"What does it mean to be a neighbour?" Jesus says it is more important to act like a helpful neighbour to others than to be drawing distinctions between "my neighbour" and "who may I hate or ignore?"
Part of the way to inherit eternal life is this, "Behave like a good neighbour to everyone." If we want to know what it means to be a neighbour, think about how the Samaritan's helpful spirit. The priest, the Levite and the Samaritan had all noticed the man bleeding by the side of the road. But only one of them came to the poor man's help. This kind of practical compassion guided Jesus' whole ministry, and is a life-lesson to us all.