I have a rampant chipmunk infestation in the backyard. It’s a veritable country club. Cute critters, but critters nonetheless, constantly raiding the bird feeders, being destructive, and making a nuisance of themselves. Once a year, I set out a seed trap: bucket or pail mostly filled with water, and a layer of bird seed spread across the surface. Curious chipmunks look at it as a free meal, yet if they fall in, the millet seed becomes their millstone. It’s better than poisoning them, given the number of roaming cats and foxes in the area.
While setting the trap the other day, I got to thinking. Sin is a seed trap. Tempt tests in a teacup. Sin can appear desirable, disguised as a good thing, a thin veneer of virtue obscuring vice, but ultimately deadly. Spiritually, emotionally, physically. Giving into a temptation now and then doesn’t seem bad, right? Small sins – like small seeds – seem so harmless. But go to that well once too often, and we will soon find ourselves over our heads and out of our depths. Drowning, suffering, floundering – seemingly hopeless beyond hope.
Those are the lies Satan whispers to us: Give up. Give in. You’re beyond redemption. Yet we do have hope, and we are redeemed, in the person of Jesus Christ, and in His Church. God sent Jesus to save us from our sins, not to watch us drown in them. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” If we desire to be saved, we call out His name, and He grabs us by the scruff of the neck, and yanks us out. Like the lost sheep, or the missing coin. That’s what happens when we go the Sacrament of Confession – we’re made fresh, we’re dried off, and we’re emboldened to kick the bucket…of sin. We are given grace and strength to resist temptations that will surely come, in every imaginable form. Through prayer, the sacraments, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are better equipped to avoid the seed traps that seem so appetizing.
My seed trap caught one chipmunk yesterday, while a second one managed to clamber out, wet and exhausted, grateful for his freedom. Maybe I’ll leave him be. I know how he feels.
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