It’s getting muggy here in Southern California, and the hot temperatures and humidity seem to be a call for the ants to rally. I’ve started sprinkling cinnamon along the edges of the food cabinets, and all dishes must be clean and dry by the end of the night. Nothing can be left out overnight that might attract the little critters, not even water.
Still, they always manage to find the one tiny crumb that I missed, the one in the corner of the room behind the garbage can. You know the signs. A long, moving stream across the kitchen floor. Well, the next time this happens, I ask you to pause before getting out the vinegar or bug spray. Take a moment to get close to them and watch how they communicate.
The first time I did this, I was amazed. As the ants moved from the nest, through the house, and back again, it looked as if they were pausing to touch noses as they passed each other. I know it’s complicated. There are pheromones, sound and other chemicals involved in their communication system, but they do use touch, and they touch each and every other ant in line. Okay. They’re ants. We’re people. What does the above fascinating information have to do with us?
Too often, as Christians, we depend on Facebook posts or other social media blasts to evangelize. These methods are great for spreading information, such as Mass times, the date of the parish picnic, or a change in schedule, and I’ve often found blogs that are informative or inspiring. But as tools for evangelizing? Not so great.
The Good News is so exciting, so personal, that sharing it should be done through face-to-face encounters. We need to see the person, touch them, let them see our smile. (Hopefully, we’re smiling.) Not just as a group, but on an individual basis.
God doesn’t have limitations, but I believe His Spirit prefers to convert hearts at close range. He wants to bring each individual to Heaven. Therefor, we must make certain we encounter each person individually. One at a time.
The encounter can be as simple as smiling at the harried sales clerk who is dealing with a difficult customer, or letting the person grabbing his or her lunch at the grocery store cut in line. Or asking the woman who is juggling three toddlers if you can help. Or holding the door open for the old man using a cane.
Make sure you see them. Stop, look the person in the eye, and see them.
Let’s say that your parish has two hundred people who are serious about evangelization. If each of them encounters one person a day – a neighbor, a sales clerk, the mailman – that’s 73,000 people who have met Christ through them in one year.
Not a bad start.
An ant gets so excited about a bread crust he shares the news with every ant he passes. Shouldn’t we show the same level of enthusiasm about salvation from our sins and everlasting life with Christ?