Isaiah 65:17-21 ("I am about to create new heavens and a new earth")
Psalm 30:2-13 (I will praise you, Lord; for you have rescued me)
John 4:43-54 (Jesus cures the son of a royal official from a distance)
Those of us who have investment portfolios inevitably are looking at a bottom line. How much will I stand to make if I invest in Company A, Mutual Fund B, or Money Market C? If any of these have been around long enough, you can track past history; otherwise, a financial planning counselor can look at what any of these are doing presently, and estimate the potential earnings, called a Return On Investment (ROI).
When the economy falters as it's been doing lately, those who tend to follow their money everywhere (these are the types that watch CNBC and the Fox Business Channel every day) get very concerned about the money they hoped to make but have not. They refer to this as a 'loss', but is it really? It seems a lot of statistical wealth is no more than a series of numbers on paper, and when the general economy tightens, a truer picture of our fiscal net worth emerges.
What about our spiritual investments?
Today's Gospel passage is an indicator of how high the ROI can be. The son of a royal official (presumably of King Herod's court) is deathly ill. Dad knows of Jesus' rising reputation as a healer, and sets out himself to ask Jesus to come to his home to cure his son. This action alone is risky, because the position of the royal court on Jesus is tenuous. Jesus might be the Messiah that has been by prophets for ages, and if so, he is the heir apparent to the kingship of Israel. Still, the official casts aside any pretense and seeks out Jesus.
Imagine the potential for disbelief when Jesus makes the prognosis that the boy will live without so much as being asked what sort of illness he had! Yet the official takes Jesus at his word and starts out for home, anxious with hope. He is met along the way by some of his household servants, who have wonderful news - the son is much better, the symptoms having left him at the very time Jesus sent the official on his way home.
The official took a risk, and made an investment in faith, and got the return on his investment he was after - his son recovered. Jesus also made an investment - as God's Son - and took that investment to the bank, as it were. The official then reinvested as his entire household came to believe and follow Jesus.
How much is needed to invest? In the financial community, we tend to start talking big from the get-go. If you want to earn big money, you have to spend big money.
In the spiritual community, however, Jesus reminds us that if we have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, He will help us move mountains.
I've seen it happen. Maybe not the literal moving of a mountain; but the strength to hang in against incredible odds and obstacles and come out in a better way than was felt possible. In spite of all the stuff I've written and have yet to write about my life that put me at odds with myself, the Church, and even God at times, I've become stronger and know I'm in a better place for it; or at the very least, know things could be much worse than they are.
That's the bottom line, the ROI, when faith is the commodity.