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.

Jesus 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

The Canaanite Women…faithful, persistent, not one of the chosen.
Jesus…open to change
Disciples…protective of Jesus, why?
Daughter…suffering

This 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.

Jesus 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 must act.

“Ask, 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

As 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.

What is not mentioned in this short passage is the timetable of prayer. When will prayer be answered? We don’t 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.

Amen

(To shorten the handout from two pages to one simply remove the text in italics or use the following link . 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



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