The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 4th November 2012

The story of Narcissus is a very ancient story which preserves for us some eternal truths.  Narcissus was a Greek.  Unlike the Greeks of our times who are pressured by financial insecurity and international scrutiny, Narcissus had no cares.  He was free to wander the hills and valleys of his native country as a sort of archetypal free-spirit.  There was one very special thing about Narcissus - he was very good looking.  In fact, he was considered to be the best looking man ever.  Everyone remarked on how truly beautiful Narcissus was - everyone, that is, except Narcissus himself.  Narcissus, in fact, had no idea that he was good looking.

One day Narcissus decided to take  stroll through the countryside.  Because of his great beauty the animals all drew near to contemplate his face - the sun shone, there was a gentle, cooling breeze and all was well - Narcissus was happy.  There waus, so to speak, no fly in Narcissus' ointment.

As he was walking he came to a pool of water.  This caught his attention and he decided to take a closer look.  As he looked he noticed his reflection and he realised, for the first time, how beautiful he was.  He was so taken with his own beauty that he sat down to have a really good look.  He looked and looked and he liked what he saw.  He looked and looked some more and continued to look and became totally fascinated by his own face.  He was so engrossed in looking at himself that he became captivated and was unable to look away.  In fact, he looked for such a long time that evening came and then night, and, having been looking in to the pool for such a long time, Narcissus got tired.  He got more and more tired until eventually he fell asleep and fell in to the pool and drowned and that was the end of Narcissus.

The moral of the story is very simple - those who think only of themselves will have a sorry end.

To think only one oneself is to follow a path that can only lead to sadness, isolation, and ultimately, death.

Love God and love your neighbour.  This simple phrase is at the heart of both Judaism and Christianity.  The message is clear - if you seek life you will never find it if you persist in looking only within yourself.  Life, life worth living, is only discovered when we realise that we all have our origin and our end in God - only in God will we achieve true happiness.  If we look only to ourselves, while we might have a pleasant time, it is ultimately going nowhere.

God has made us for relationship and it is only when we enter into relationship with God and with one another that we grow and experience what our life can really be.

Today's passage from the gospel presents us with a real challenge - where am I looking for happiness?  Am I really trying to enter into relationships with others or do I think of others only in terms of my own needs?  Am I willing to grow?

As we head towards the end of the liturgical year (the church's year which begins with Advent and ends with the feast of Christ the King) the readings continually ask questions about the fundamental choices that we make.  Do we want to stay with Narcissus, loving ourselves, looking in to the pool, or are we willing to raise our gaze and take in those who surround us and see the fascinating beauty that is in them also?


Article posted on 3rd of November 2012

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