A few weeks ago, the Sunday Gospel was the story of the Rich Young Man, a story that is familiar, since it appears in all three Mass cycles. The Rich Young Man asks Jesus what he must do to follow Him and go to heaven. Jesus tells him that he must follow the commandments. After the young man affirms that he has done so all his life, Jesus tells him the next step: “When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22) This is an interesting idea: the transfer of physical goods into spiritual goods that will be with us forever in heaven. This isn’t the only time the idea of investment is brought up by Jesus. He also teaches on the subject in Matthew 6, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
What exactly does it mean to invest in spiritual goods? The fact is, everything we do as humans is an investment in something. The most obvious examples are money and bank accounts, but every second of our time is also being invested in some fashion. Whether the investment is wise or not is a matter that only God sees clearly, but most people have a sense of whether they are being wasteful. For example, we invest time in classes and homework. We hope this will pay off in increased knowledge and skills that lead to finding and keeping jobs. Jobs are themselves an investment in obtaining both the basic necessities to live and enhancements that make life more enjoyable. It’s not all about work though, as our leisure time is an investment in our mental health, and sometimes in our understanding of life experiences. With this in mind, the concept of spiritual investments becomes clearer. It’s not that physical goods are bad, but it’s unwise to put too much into them and not enough into God. Prayer and study of God and His Church are investments that help us have more fulfilling lives, as we grasp the deeper meaning behind everything. Acts of charity, like the donation of physical goods, are an investment in the good of greater communities, but also in developing virtues and empathy. These virtues, in turn, improve our lives, even while we’re still here on Earth. The ultimate payoff is to reach the gates of heaven and hear God say “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and enjoy everlasting paradise with God. To get to that point, however, we must make smaller investments in developing our mind and soul, so we truly desire God above all other things. It’s basically the Divine Bank Account where you make the right investments. The infinite generosity of God returns interest beyond what you can imagine. The doors are open 24/7, so why don’t you follow Jesus’ advice, and make an investment today? You won’t regret it.