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Prayers of the People: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - 20 August 2017

 |  14 August 2017

Introduction to mass

Ever the Good Shepherd searching out lost sheep, Jesus ventures into pagan territory far from his homeland of Galilee. Near Tyre and Sidon, he meets a feisty foreigner, a Canaanite woman. She knows what she wants – a cure for her daughter – and seizes the opportunity to ask for it. Bluntly rebuffed by Jesus, she refuses to take no for an answer. She has had to live by her wits; now they inspire her quick replies. Jesus concedes and grants her wish. The story sheds an unsettling light on Jesus, but the message is clear. The outsider has a place in the kingdom.

The week's prayer focus

As the Canaanite woman challenged Jesus, so Pope Francis challenges the church, calling us to leave our comfort zone and head out to the margins. Give us the courage, O Lord, to seek out the stranger and learn from the gospel of their everyday lives.

Sample intercessions

These intercessions are offered for selected use at Sunday Mass in the parish alongside those that express local needs and concerns.


Dear friends, wherever Jesus found faith, he brought healing and hope. With the faith of the Canaanite woman, let us ask for our needs and the needs of the world.


  1. We pray for missionaries sent in our name to proclaim the gospel in new places and cultures. May their preaching, teaching and service manifest the reign of God. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  2. We pray for minority Christian communities struggling with discrimination, hostility or active persecution. May they stand firm in faith and take heart from our support. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  3. We pray for asylum seekers on Manus Island being forced out of their accommodation. May the inhumanity of their treatment shame authorities into an urgent change of policy. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  4. We pray for world and regional leaders responding to the threat posed by North Korea. May they weigh up the situation wisely and find peaceful ways of defusing the crisis. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  5. We pray for the many millions of people trapped in modern forms of economic or sexual slavery. May the organisations that seek to liberate them succeed in their mission. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  6. We pray for the Australian electorate. May the public debate over same-sex marriage be conducted freely and respectfully and enable voters to make an informed decision when they vote. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  7. We pray for parole officers and for all who undertake to mentor young offenders. May those they accompany manage to break free from their past and make a fresh start in life. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  8. We pray for the deaf or hearing impaired. May they be provided with the social and material resources they need to live their lives to the full. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.
  9. We pray for the recently deceased . . . and for those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time. May they take their place at the table of eternal life. (Pause for silent prayer) Lord, hear us.


Almighty God, Creator and Saviour, your Son Jesus was lifted up on the tree of the cross to draw all people to himself. May all your scattered children come together in peace and make their home in you. We ask this through Christ our Lord.


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