Trust in God as the Rock of our salvation, as the Lord who made us his chosen people, as our shepherd and guide. This should be the mark of our following of Jesus.

We must take care to guard against the folly that befell the Israelites, that led them to quarrel and test God’s goodness at Meribah and Massah.

We can harden our hearts in ways more subtle but no less ruinous. We can put our trust in possessions, squabble over earthly inheritances, kid ourselves that what we have we deserve, store up treasures and think they’ll afford us security, rest.

All this is “vanity of vanities,” a false and deadly way of living, as today’s First Reading tells us.

This is the greed that Jesus warns against in today’s Gospel. The rich man’s anxiety and toil expose his lack of faith in God’s care and provision. That’s why Paul calls greed “idolatry” in today’s Epistle. 

Mistaking having for being, possession for existence, we forget that God is the giver of all that we have, we exalt the things we can make or buy over our Maker (see Romans 1:25).

Jesus calls the rich man a “fool,” a word used in the Old Testament for someone who rebels against God or has forgotten him (see Psalm 14:1).

Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.

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