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  • Sarah Raad

Ants

If we could imitate Christ in the smallest of ways, what wonders we would work…

Sacrifice of Isaac (Carvaggio)

I was watching an ant carrying food to its nest the other day.


Did you know that a common black ant can carry approximately 20 times its body weight over its head? That would be like a man weighing 100 kilograms, lifting 2,000 kilograms of weight over his head…


And yet, nobody really notices the little black ant in the scheme of things. After all, ants only carry crumbs. But what is important here is that the crumbs weigh more than the ant itself.


The crumb-carrying ant paves the way for the other ants to follow.


When was the last time you saw a lone ant? Ants work together – so that they all feel capable of carrying their crumbs. If that first ant stopped carrying the crumbs, the other ants would never find their way; and very soon all those little crumbs would build up and world would be overwhelmed.


This made me think of the ultimate first crumb-carrying ant…


This made me think of Christ!


But for Christ, His crumb weighed far more than just 20kilograms more than His human weight and capacity – His crumb weighed infinite times more than His mere human capacity could handle. For Christ, His crumb was the Cross…


After all – Christ bore the weight of all sin on His soul and later rose from the dead to triumph over sin through His sacrifice.


No other sacrifice would do.

It is for this reason, that in the Old Testament of the Bible we are told the story of Abraham and his attempt to sacrifice Isaac. But Isaac’s sacrifice by Abraham was stopped by an Angel of the Lord, because the Lord does not ask for needless sacrifices. All sacrifices have purpose to God, or He does not permit them…

Recently I did some reading about the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, and the similarities to another FAR GREATER sacrifice…


“On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’” (Genesis 22:4-5). In Genesis, we are told that Isaac rode a donkey to his place of execution.


So too did Christ – the Paschal Sacrifice – ride a donkey into Jerusalem, the place of His Paschal Sacrifice… “They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.” (Matthew, 21:5).


“On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” (Genesis, 22:4). Isaac’s sacrifice was to be in three days, to foreshadow not only the Passover Sacrifice of the lamb, but also Christ’s sacrifice, for on the third day – the day of His crucifixion when “…they led Him away to crucify Him.” (Matthew 27:31).


“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together” (Genesis 22:6).


Now this one is important… Often when people imagine the sacrifice of Isaac, they image a child being forcibly threatened by his father. But Abraham was probably almost one hundred years old when this event took place. That means he would have been physically incapable of forcing anyone to do anything. Further, Isaac was probably a young man in his mid-thirties, who could have easily overpowered his father. After all, how could a child have enough strength to carry enough wood to burn his own body, all the way up a mountain? I only makes sense for this to be a grown man.


This is important, because this means that by carrying the wood and the fire – the means of his own execution – Isaac CHOSE to cooperate with the sacrifice. HE SAID YES! By carrying the wood of that sacrifice on his own back, he consented to the sacrifice that was to come.


Christ also carried the wood of His own sacrifice – His Cross. He carried it on his own, right up until the moment when His human strength completely gave way and then Father provided Simon of Cyrene to carry the wood for the sacrifice of His Lamb, “they forced him to carry the cross.” (Matthew 27:32).


“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ … He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. … But the angel of the Lord called out to him from Heaven, ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’” (Genesis, 22:8-12).


Abraham’s son, Isaac, was spared.


WE ARE SPARED!


Christ is not…


Why?


Because, “At that moment (of His death) the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” (Matthew 27:51-52).


Christ was not spared, because His sacrifice could do what Isaac’s and what ours could not. His sacrifice could establish a NEW COVENANT with God. His sacrifice could reveal the Holy of the Holies behind that torn veil in the temple. His sacrifice was a TRIUMPH …


How little a thing it must have seemed to most of the people who watched that most UNJUSTLY accused criminal die that day, two thousand years ago. How relieved His oppressors must have felt to be thinking that they were finally rid of Him.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” There is no greater love than Christ’s, and if we can imitate Christ in the little things we do, we can imitate God in everything.

As Scott Hahn says in his book, “Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace”… “Our God is the master of the universe, whose mind and power are evident in the formation of the Himalayas, but also in the movement of subatomic particles. And He doesn’t move mountains without moving a whole lot of electrons in the process!”


Christ lived for us. He died for us too. And He did it, like a little black ant… Carrying the weight of our fallen human world on His most Sacred Back.


It is for this reason that Saint Thomas Moore said, “No one on his deathbed ever regretted being a Catholic.”


So perhaps though at times it seems that nobody else notices all those crumbs on the back of my Beloved, I do… Perhaps you do too.


And if we can see them, we can follow Him, the perfect crumb-carrying ant… All the way along the Road to Calvary, dancing along the narrow path – seeking our home…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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