December 9th – The Image of Me

The wise old priest was hearing confessions. A pretty young thing entered the confessional box and as usual began: “Forgive me father, for I have sinned.”
Now it wasn’t the first time this girl had come to confession, and yet the priest enquired of what she was guilty.
“Conceit and pride, Father, I’m afraid. I sit in front of my mirror three times a day and say to my reflection ‘You are simply beautiful: you are a ravishing girl.’ It is so unfair that God has given me such beauty.
The old priest replied: ‘Oh it’s not as bad as you thought …’ , and she said: “Is not pride the greatest sin, Father?” The priest replied “Aye, it is lassie, but bad eyesight is not a sin. You need glasses.”
I’ve no idea how that confession ended, but sometimes the only thing you can do with self-admiration is, hit it full-face with a custard pie! The world never grows tired of that bit of slapstick.
The classic case of self-love was, of course, Narcissus, the handsome ancient Greek, who saw his own reflection in a pool of dark water, and promptly fell in love with his own image! He became so entranced by his own beauty that he pined away and died. The old legend says that at death he became the Narcissus flower.Yet, however you read it, male or female, old or young, attractive or repellent, self-love is the death of our souls. To love ourselves as we are is to be blind, have lost the desire to improve, to change for the better, and that is the first symptom of spiritual death. We are not seeing ourselves at all.
The New Testament writer, James, contains among the string of spiritual gems of which his books consists, this one. It is from James Chapter 1, where he draws a verbal cartoon of a man who looks at his face in his mirror and then walks away saying ‘Oh that must be someone else’s face, not mine. Let’s listen to his actual words in James, Chapter 1 v. 23-25:
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.
To see ourselves in God’s mirror in all our pride and sin and ugly self-indulgence, and only recognise the expression of some other people who are proud and sinful and self-indulgent, is not only blindness – it’s blind madness.
A Prayer: Lord open my eyes to see myself and seek from you to improve the looks of my soul.

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