“He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp” – frightening and dreadful words. Spoken to leprous people in the wilderness, a people on the Exodus betwixt and between the slavery of Egypt and the promised land of Palestine. Words that ban, isolate, shun, and place someone beyond the connection to the community. These are words spoken to loved ones that pushed them from the routine of life into the wilderness. In modern life, we have our own words or lack of words that push people into a more modern wilderness where our loved ones are ghosted, cancelled, deleted, blocked and isolated – all this is a time when we all feel the effects of pandemic fatigue. Perhaps “outside the camp” sounds tempting during these safer-at-home days of the covid-19 pandemic. But this is different.
40 A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” 42 The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. 43 Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 44 Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” 45 The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.