The 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Homily

In both the First Reading from Leviticus as well as today’s Gospel reading from Mark, there is a reference of someone being “outside the camp.” In ancient times, being outside the camp or outside the community -away from food, shelter, community, protection - was almost a death sentence.

But is there another aspect of being “outside the camp” that has positive implications?

“That individual shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:46)

Then Jesus said to the leper,

“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.” 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 - outside the camp - and people kept coming to him from everywhere. (Mark 1:45)


Fr. Ronald Rolheiser writes that, We crave silence and solitude. Yet we have nowhere to escape to. “We can ALWAYS be reached.” It’s safe there, with our technological tethers tied to our toes.

If we’re going to escape, we need to get to a quieter place, a more spiritual place, a place of solitude. But in order to get to this place, you have to leave the world and go “outside the camp.”solitude

The problem with going outside the camp is that “outside the camp” - it’s dark and foreboding and unfamiliar and threatening and dangerous and lonely.

In addition, outside the camp - is where the lepers are. God might put you in contact with people who are unattractive and wounded and angry and annoying and addicted and demanding and needy.

Here’s one final aspect about being “outside the camp” - that’s where Jesus hangs out.


Lent is coming up in a few days. For Lent 2015, Matthew Kelly has a recommendation: “DON’T Give Up Chocolate For Lent” ESPECIALLY if you “giving something up for Lent” makes everyone around you miserable. Kelly says to try a different approach. Since, as listeners, as spiritual people, we begin by quieting down, this Lent, maybe try a different approach. You want to “give up” something? “Give up” the calendar, the schedule, the activity, the control, the noise, the hectic and frantic lifestyle, the sleepless nights, the fatigue. Pray more instead. Enter into some quiet time. Why? According to Bishop Diadochus of Photice, Jesus the fisherman says, “Look, I can’t see you and ‘catch you’ if you are stirring up the waters of your life with constant activity.” Here’s a prayer:

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved,

in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength:

By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, into your presence,

where we may be still and know that thou art God.


A final warning:

Not only is Jesus there “outside the camp,” Satan is there as well. “Outside the camp” is where Jesus goes to be tempted. The pull, to return to our old ways, is strong.

Look at the Gospel. The leper is specifically asked NOT to say anything. What does the leper do? Exactly the OPPOSITE of what Jesus “sternly warned him” not to do. The leper’s thanks to God is to “return to the old ways and to return back inside the walls of the camp”

This is similar to the encounter of Jesus and His curing of the crippled beggar found in Mark, Chapter 5:

“After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you. “The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well.

The crippled man’s thanks to Jesus is to “return to the old ways and go back inside the walls of the camp”

Fr. John Foley, S. J. is a Jesuit composer and scholar at Saint Louis University. He provides a 3-step starting point on now you can stay “outside” the camp this Lent: Ritual - Recall - arms

“Partake of His life in RITUAL.

RECALL it in the reading of Scripture.

RECEIVE the life of Christ as sacrament.”

So instead of giving something up for Lent, go outside of the camp and find the Peace the pass all understanding.


Audio version of the homily is here:

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