For if any are hearers of the word, and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act- they will be blessed in their doing. James 1:23-25.
I am reminded of that famous picture by J D Waterhouse:
In Greek mythology, the unhappy nymph Echo falls in love with the beautiful youth Narcissus. Narcissus, however rejects her, he falls in love with the beautiful face reflected in the pool, which is, of course, his own reflection. He so wants to kiss the beautiful face but every time he tries to do so and his fingers touch the surface of the pool and the beautiful face disappears. He becomes obsessed by his own image in the pool's mirror and dies the death of the self-absorbed. His is a mirror of obsession; self interest.
There is another mirror. It proclaims to speak truth. 'Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?' But, soon, on asking, the Queen discovers that Snow White is the fairest in the land and she flies into a rage.
Two mirrors: one leading to narcissism and the other self-delusion. Narcissus stares at his own reflection, as do we at times, but hopefully those close to us will challenge us in our smugness. When we look sometimes, like Snow White's grandmother, we'll be deluded. Now more challenging than self-absorption or delusion is the threat echoed by James. If we are hearers but not doers, we look in the mirror but we cannot understand the significance of what we see. Looking in a mirror invites a response. Christ's mirror reflects us. Christ-like, it is a mirror unlike any other. It calls us to respond to Jesus Christ's teaching. It brings us the Word and the blessing of his promise but also God's demands and expectations. We mustn't deceive ourselves. With the Christ-mirror, it reflects us as God expects us to be but in that mirror we are not alone. We are in front of the Christ-mirror with a whole group, each trying to love the person he's made us to be, each other and God. The Christ-mirror reflects truth and selfishness. We have the potential to change the world. We live in the liberty of the law so our human living abides by Kingdom values. God's truth in me and you, as well as God's demands on me and you- we need each other to see the potential for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So the last question: When is the las time you looked in the mirror? is not the last question, it is followed by another and another: 'Do you remember what you saw? And 'Do you need someone else to look into that mirror with you?'
30th Aug 09, Twelfth after Trinity. St Thomas of Canterbury, Dodbrooke, Devon.
Benefice Sung Eucharist at Dodbrooke Church 10:30am
Thank you Tony