Palm Sunday Prayer Vigil for Accountability organized
by Voice of the Faithful
Through dialogue, a foreign woman, moves Christ to change
his mind. Her faith opens his heart and mind. Because
of her, Christ sees his mission in entirely new terms.
left that place and went away to the district of Tyre
and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite
woman from that
region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy
on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by
a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And
his disciples came and urged him, saying “Send her
away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I
was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” But
she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help
me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take
the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She
said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs
that fall from their masters’ table.” Then
Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter
was healed instantly. Matthew 15:27
Canaanite Women…faithful, persistent,
not one of the chosen.
Jesus…open to change
Disciples…protective of Jesus, why?
selection from Matthew’s gospel illustrates
a powerful understanding of what it means to be faithful,
an understanding that would be helpful for all Voice of
the Faithful (VOTF) members as we continue our campaign
for accountability. We call ourselves the “voice
of the faithful” and we need to reflect on the power
of our faithfulness and our voice. Every element of this
gospel story is relevant and revealing. The woman is not
just any women. She is a foreigner, not a Jew, and a woman.
She is on the fringes three times over. And, she will
be heard, even if she has to shout. What can she lose?
She is already “other.”
But, her daughter is sick, she must speak. She has heard
of Jesus and his ability to cast out demons.
is traveling with his disciple who see themselves as
needing to protect Jesus from the
crowds and, in this
case, from an outspoken, foreign woman. Jesus can be seen
as weary of the crowds. At first, he doesn’t even
respond to the woman. He listens to his disciples who
urge him to send her away. Jesus even declares why he
doesn’t have to deal with this woman. She is clearly
not a Jew. Early on Matthew’s Jesus sees his mission
to the Jews alone. But the woman persists and her arguments
about the crumbs of Jesus’ teaching that have fed
her, change Jesus’s outlook.
Jesus might not have directed his gospel to this Canaanite
woman, but she heard it and was transformed.
VOTF must act out of our combined faithfulness. Then
conversion can occur. When we come up against those who
will not dialogue, are surrounded by protective disciples,
think of the Canaanite woman. Persistence in faith. In
this passage, Jesus is revealed as open to change, and
being greatly affected by faithfulness.
Voice of the Faithful declares in its mission statement
that it is an organization formed to “provide
a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit.” This
passage from Matthew deals with the very nature of prayer
and expectations. It is very important to note the use
of “action” verbs….ask, search, knock.
If you are looking for God’s wisdom and help you
and it will be given you; search, and you will find;
knock and the door will open.
Is there anyone
among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give
a stone? Or if the child asks for fish, will give a snake?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
give good things to those who ask him? Matthew 7:7
you can see there is no equivocating. Ask and it will
be given to you. Not “maybe”, not if you are “good”,
not if you are “worthy.” Ask in faith, and
you shall be answered. This is why VOTF knows that if
our actions are grounded in faith and prayerful discernment
there will be movement.
is not mentioned in this short passage is the timetable
of prayer. When will prayer be answered?
know. We are, however, reminded that God’s love
for us is greater that even the love of a parent for a
child. We need to enter into that knowledge and allow
it to carry us forward in prayer, allow us to be hopeful.
Prayer for Accountability
Generous and loving God,
We are yours. We ask for the strength and wisdom to move
forward, to act humbly and powerfully in building up your
reign in this troubled world, in our troubled Church.
We understand and accept our mission as the Body of Christ.
Help us to live it out. At baptism we were joined with
Christ, anointed as Priest, Prophet and King.
We accept the responsibility of being church. Help us
to act with faith, courage and compassion. Let us not
falter in the difficult work we know must be done. Fortify
us for the work of protecting all children and the renewal
of your church. It is your Light we seek; the Light that
brings healing, dialogue, and respectful collaboration.
May your Holy Spirit continue to guide us, bring us hope,
and keep us moving forward, grounded in our love and knowledge
of you. May you bless our actions. We ask this, as we
ask all things, in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
shorten the handout from two pages to one simply remove
the text in italics or use the following
We recommend the person leading use the full two pages
to provide greater context for the readings and prayer)
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide
movement of concerned mainstream Catholics formed in
response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The groupís
mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to
the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively
participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic
Church. Its goals are to support survivors of clergy
sexual abuse, support priests of integrity, and shape
structural change within the Catholic Church in full
accordance and harmony with Church teaching. For more
information visit our website at www.votf.org