Week of Proper 24: Monday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Some of Charles Foster Kane’s Possessions after His Death, from Citizen Kane (1941)

(The image is a screen capture.)

Possessions and Attitudes

OCTOBER 23, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Romans 4:13, 19-25 (Revised English Bible):

It was not through law that Abraham and his descendants were given the promise that the world should be their inheritance, but through righteousness that came from faith.

His faith did not weaken when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old),  and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; no distrust made him doubt God’s promise, but, strong in faith, he gave glory to God, convinced that what he had promised he was able to do.  And that is why Abraham’s faith was

counted to him as righteousness.

The words “counted to him” were meant to apply not only to Abraham but to us; our faith too is to be “counted,” the faith in the God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead; for he was given up to death for our misdeeds, and raised to life for our justification.


Canticle 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) plus the Trinitarian formula

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all he days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation

by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.


Psalm 89:19-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.”


Luke 12:13-21 (Revised English Bible):

Someone in the crowd said to him [Jesus],

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family property with me.

He said to the man,

Who set me over you to judge or arbitrate?

Then to the people he said,

Beware!  Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life.

And he told them this parable:

There was a rich man whose land yielded a good harvest.  He debated with himself: “What am I to do?  I have not the space to store my produce.  This is what I will do, ” said he:  “I will pull down my barns and build them bigger.  I will collect in them all my grain and other goods, and I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid by, enough for many years to come:  take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.'”  But God said to him, “You fool, this very night you must surrender your life; and the money you have made, who will get it now?” That is how it is with the man who piles up treasure for himself and remains a pauper in the sight of God.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The end of Citizen Kane haunts me.  Charles Foster Kane has died recently.  He has left behind a large house stuffed with possessions, none of which mean anything to those who clean up after him.  In fact, they burn many of them.

We cannot take our possessions with us, and others will have to clean up after us.  How much work will we make them do?  In the interim, how much work will we make ourselves do every time we move?

People matter far more than possessions, for positive relationships can alleviate loneliness but money and “stuff” cannot.  Abraham was wealthy, but we do not recall him mainly as a rich patriarch.  His legacy, as Paul understood it, is faith.  So not only do people matter more than possessions; so does faith, which, in the Pauline formulation, is inherently active.

I have many books, and intend to keep a large library for as long as possible.  But I use it for various purposes, including devotions.  And I feel good when I reduce the size of my library by giving books to students, for I do not need anymore dust collectors.  Furthermore, I become painfully aware of the size of my library every time I move.  It can become an albatross if I am not careful.

Having many possessions is not a problem; neither is being wealthy.  Money and items are morally neutral.  What matters most is our attitude toward them, as well as the actions flowing from this mindset.  Faith, in Paul’s formulation, entails acknowledging and accepting our complete dependence on God’s grace alone, not on anything we bring to the table.  So any attitude which stands in the way of embracing this fact of life needs to change.



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