Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (31 January 2015)
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term ‘Blank Cheque’. We hear it used as an idiom or figure of speech often. What does it mean? It’s a cheque that’s signed but has no amount written in. The has free rein to decide amount to write in. It’s used to describe agreements, especially business or political ones that have one party allowing the other a free rein to do anything. What’s this to do with us today?
Feast of Presentation of the Lord falls on 2 February. It’s the World Day for Consecrated Life and we read in the Gospel of the day about Jesus being presented in the temple. To consecrate something is to set it aside for a sacred purpose, for the work of the Lord. We’re all consecrated to God by virtue of our baptism and so we are called to the the work of the Lord. What is this work of the Lord? This is often hazy and unclear. Even those who respond with clear assent like Samuel when he said ‘Here I am, Lord’, he wasn’t quite sure of what he was in for. And the Lord doesn’t quite say what it is either.
That’s where the image of the blank cheque seems important. It’s not about us getting one but but us giving it to the Lord. You might ask, ‘What us? Give a blank cheque to the Lord? We don’t even have anything to give at all?’ But that’s exactly what I think is asked of us – to give in our poverty, just like the widow who gave the two coins to the temple treasury. God’s given everything that we have – are we able to give it back for the Lord to make use of it?
Our Blessed Mother as always, is our model for us in our quest to give this blank cheque. She was open (as mentioned previously) in following all that God had in store for her, doing so even if she didn’t know what exactly the following entailed. Her fiat when she said ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to be according to thy word’ was such a blank cheque, open to anything that was asked of us. Are we open enough to do just that, without knowing the details but secure in the knowledge that God will be with us?
The cheques that we give have no amounts written on them – it could be as little as $1 or over a million. It could clear out our entire bank account. We need generosity if we’re to give these blank cheques back to God. To be free enough to give as much as it takes, not holding back anything for ourselves. That’s difficult but possible as we see our Blessed Mother give as much as she possibly could, journeying with Jesus to Calvary and beyond. We’re called not to turn away like the rich young man who was asked to give his wealth away but to stay. And give all we can.
And this is our challenge – to feel that we can offer this cheque back to the Lord. Perhaps not today but in time. But we also have to consider if we have the faith to do so and then to start with small things. To help, to serve in small ways in church, to our neighbours and friends. To consider if we’re generous with ourselves in allowing our faith to grow. As we trust the Lord to use our lives in small ways, we’re better able to trust the Lord with the big.
And so as we pray for and with those who have given blank cheques to God in the form of their consecration of their lives to God, we pray that their faith will be strengthened so that they will continue to give. We pray that they will show the joy of God’s love that this may attract more to live in that state of life. We pray that all of us, consecrated through our baptism may allow love to permeate all that we do. What kind of cheque are we prepared to offer to God today?