The Distant Camp

All ancient societies considered leprosy as something impure and so they kept lepers away from the community. Lepers had to live alone in isolation and out of “the camp” (Lev. 13:45-46). This may have been a public health precaution to prevent people from being contaminated; (Doesn’t that sound familiar?) but they were regarded as sinners and thus accursed by God. Since it was the belief that God had condemned them, people felt they should keep them at a distance.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus felt great sorrow at the sight of the leper. Jesus saw in the leper not only his skin disease but also the pain of rejection from his own people and community. Jesus does not run away from the so-called ‘impure leper’, but touches him and heals him. He sees in the leper an unwanted person who needs compassion and help.

The touch of Jesus has a great significance for the leper who lives in a ‘Distant camp” as an outcast. For Jesus, the leper is His friend, who has “cried for God from his distress”.

In our society, we may not find many lepers with skin disease, but we do find ‘the lepers’ who are rejected by society, people who are untouchables because of race or religion, or people who are expelled because of their moral conduct. It is improper for a Christian to add his or her voice in condemning people or keeping ‘the other’ in a ‘distant camp’. The disciples of Christ are invited to adopt an attitude of the master reaching out to the rejected and to all those in need of help.

Does our present social environment make us feel that we are in a “Different Camp”?

–Rev. Ranjan D’Sa OCD

Category Reflections