Week of Proper 26: Saturday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  Boat of Purity and Ease, Summer Palace, Beijing, China–Restored and Expanded in the 1890s by Order of the Dowager Empress Cixi Via Embezzled Funds Intended Originally for the Chinese Navy

Image Source = Corymgrenier

The Insufficiency of Materialism and Greed

NOVEMBER 6, 2021


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 16:1-9, 16, 21-27 (Revised English Bible):

I commend to you, Phoebe, a fellow-Christian who is a minister in the church at Cenchrae.  Give her, in the fellowship of the Lord, a welcome worthy of God’s people, and support her in any business in which she may need your help, for she has herself been a good friend to many, including myself.

Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.  They risked their necks to save my life, and not I alone but all the gentile churches are grateful to them.  Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Give my greetings to my dear friend Epanetus, the first convert to Christ in Asia, and to Mary, who worked so hard for you.  Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow-countrymen and comrades in captivity, who are eminent among the apostles and were Christians before I was.

Greetings to Anpliatus, my dear friend in the fellowship of the Lord, to Urban my comrade in Christ, and to my dear Stachys….

Greet one another with the kiss of peace.  All Christ’s churches send you their greetings.

Greetings to you from my colleague Timothy, and from Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater my fellow-countrymen.  (I Tertius, who took this letter down, add my Christian greetings.)  Greetings also from Gaius, my host and host of the whole congregation, and from Erastus, treasurer of this city, and our brother Quartus.

To him who has power to make you stand firm, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of that divine secret kept in silence for long ages but now disclosed, and by the eternal God’s command made known to all nations through prophetic scriptures, to bring them to faith and obedience–to the only wise God through Jesus Christ be glory for endless ages!  Amen.

Psalm 145:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

Every day will I bless you

and praise your Name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

there is no end to his greatness.

4 One generation shall praise your works to another

and shall declare your power.

5  I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty

and all your marvelous works.

6  They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts,

and I will tell of our greatness.

7  They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;

they shall sing of your righteous deeds.

Luke 16:9-15 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

So I say to you, use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past you may be received into an eternal home.

Anyone who can be trusted in small matters can be trusted also in great; and anyone who is dishonest in small matters is dishonest also in great.  If, then, you have not proved trustworthy with the wealth of this world, who will trust you with the wealth that is real?  And if you have proved untrustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you anything of your own?

No slave can serve two masters; for either he will hate the first and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second.  You cannot serve God and Money.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and scoffed at him.  He said to them,

You are the people who impress others with your righteousness; but God sees through you; for what is considered admirable in human eyes is detestable in the sight of God.


The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a certain way of seeking social status and, depending on one’s finances, a probable way of wasting money better spent in other ways or saved.  We humans like to keep up appearances at least some of the time, but many of us know of the futility of this pattern of behavior.  Maybe this fact helps explain our admiration for real people and fictional characters who do not even try to keep up with the Joneses or to impress others in empty matters.

Jesus, at the end of this day’s lesson from Luke, says that nobody can serve God and mammon simultaneously.  Mammon refers not to money itself, which is morally neutral, but to materialism and greed.  Our lives, as we read elsewhere in the Bible, do not consist in the abundance of our possessions.  Our wealth here on earth is subject to rust and decay, so making the accumulation of an end, not a means to an end, is foolish decision.   (For more, read: https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-friday-year-1/.)

The prophet Samuel, when he anointed David as King of Israel, said that people look on exteriors, but God looks inside people.  The reading from Luke fits neatly with this incident.   Of course we cannot serve both God and greed; the two are incompatible.

Paul, while concluding the Epistle to the Romans, commended various people, many of whom are quite obscure.  But they served God faithfully.  God knows who they were (and are); they are at rest in our Lord.  That matters more than anything else.  Furthermore, I observe that you and I are almost certain to spend our lives and our afterlives is earthly obscurity.  We will die.  And, in time, all those who have known us will die also.  Then it will be as if we had not lived.  When that time, comes, how will we stand in relation to God?  That is what matters most.  Our money will go away; indeed, money is mostly fictitious, consisting of numbers flowing back and forth between computers.  Our possessions will break or burn or go to the dump or a thrift store.  Our lives are not located in our possessions and money.  No, they have meaning in relationships and in God.

May we focus our energies on that which is most important.



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