Killing Ants – A “What If”
One morning, I walked into the kitchen and noticed a few ants crawling around on the counter. There were a few crumbs hanging out that didn’t get cleaned up well, so I got rid of the ants, wiped down the counter, and felt pretty good about my domesticated self.
After dinner that night, we cleared the table and I went outside to play with my boys for a bit. When we came back in, we noticed that while there were only small remnants of food on the plates in the sink, this was a mountain of food for the ants. They lined up all organized, as if they knew we were going to wash that dish if they didn’t get all the spaghetti sauce off it in the next five minutes.
Even after wiping down the counters, the sink, washing all the dishes, taking out the trash, and flossing my teeth (for good measure), the ants kept coming back… probably just to laugh at me.
So, I got out the bleach and scrubbed everything. I vacuumed the floors; I even wiped down the chairs (which might sound obsessive until you see how much food my kids can spill on a chair).
I was certain that I wouldn’t see an ant in the house again for at least a week.
But you are already ahead of me aren’t you? You know that when I walked into the kitchen the next morning, I was shocked to see (yeah, you guessed it) ants wandering around as if they were saying, “I heard you were giving out free food here.” [face palm] What?!!? Did someone hang up fliers on the anthill or something?
Well, that was it. These ants were not going to win.
While I was at the grocery store that day, I bought some ant poison (let’s ignore, for a moment, the fact that the grocery store sells stuff that will kill you, a mere 15 feet away from the milk).
I got home and opened up the package, riddled with warnings. I sat and watched as the ants explored this circular plastic dome; home to an abundance of ant deliciousness. I let out a maniacal laugh while twisting my mustache. Things were going just as planned.
It was slow at first, but within a few hours, our kitchen had ants hanging out like it was Spring Break and my counter top was Miami. They could not get to the stuff fast enough. On top of this, if the instructions were correct, not only were they consuming this “goodness” themselves, but they were taking it home and sharing it with their friends and family. It was only a matter of time before the ant apocalypse would strike, and none of these ants would be “left behind.”
By the next day, the ants were gone, and my kitchen was back.
These ants had no idea what they were doing. They thought the circular all-you-can-eat ant poison buffet was good for them. They had no idea that the food they were bringing home to their ant children was going to kill them (OK, now I’m feeling a little bad about all this – wait – no I’m not).
But let’s say that one ant had learned how to read ant poison warning labels. When he got to the circular disc of ant glory, he read the label and realized that it was poison. What would he do? What should he do?
Would he eat the poison? Would he tell his friends and family that it was poison? Would he even try to stop random stranger ants from eating the poison?
What if the other ants didn’t believe him, and thought he was being too uptight? What if they thought he just wanted them to be unhappy?
Can you imagine the difference that one ant could have made on the entire ant population if he told others about this poison that could kill them? However, in order to tell others to avoid the poison, he had to avoid it first.
If you saw all your friends lining up to consume poison, wouldn’t you say something? Wouldn’t you try to stop them? This may seem like it’s a far-fetched idea, but people consume poison everyday.
To put it quite simply, sin is poison. It is poison to our soul, which is even worse than poison for our bodies (check out last weeks post about my moped). It may not kill you physically, but spiritually, sin kills our relationship with God. For St. Paul tells us “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
But before we can tell another to stay away from poison, we need to avoid the poison ourselves. What good is it to tell someone not to do something, while we are stuffing our face full of this deadly concoction?
We need a relationship with God, and a desire to love and serve Him. With this foundation, we will want to learn more about the teachings of the Church and the Bible. As we learn it, we can live it. And as we live it, we can share it.
If that educated ant that could read warning labels cared about the other ants, he would want them to know the truth. This is the (perhaps weirdest) definition of evangelization: Sharing the good news with others. We are called to share this same good news and help others avoid the poison of sin.
And the good news is that if you leave that poison alone, there is some grape jelly right around the corner!