Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
September 10, 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs, CA
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Ezekiel 33:7-9 | Psalm 95:1-2;6-9
Romans 13:8-10 | Matthew 18:15-20


+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The primary focus of all our readings today is our Christian responsibility towards each other and our society.  We are also reminded of Jesus’ methods for promoting reconciliation in our lives.

Our first reading from Exodus, commonly referred to as “The Tent of Meeting” has a profound encounter between Moses and God.  The “tent of meeting” was the place outside the camp where Moses went to speak with God.  Whenever Moses went into the tent, a pillar of cloud would come down at the entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses.  And whenever the people saw the pillar of the cloud at the entrance, they all stood and prayed at the entrance to their tent.

As you may recall, the people of Israel faced consequences from God for their disobedience in the worship of idols and materialism.  God chose to withdraw His presence from them, yet, Moses set up a temporary place of worship to commune with God and reconcile his people’s relationship with God.

Moses set an example just as Jesus does in our Gospel of how love can heal us and bring about reconciliation.

When God says, “I will hold you responsible” He is telling us that we must speak up when we see someone doing evil things, such as the police involved in the killing of George Floyd, or political figures who abuse their position of power by instituting violent acts, such as Vladimir Putin.  Being indifferent to moral decay in our society, community, church or family is detrimental to the future.

But we must also remember that God says, “I do not delight in the death of a sinner…let him repent and live.”  God is telling us that we must rehabilitate the sinner to bring him or her back on the right track, if possible.

In our second reading from Romans, Paul reminds us that as followers of Jesus, we have a debt that can never be fully paid off: the debt of love to one another.  It is a debt that we owe, not to a bank or a lender, but to the very essence of our faith.

Love is the distinguishing mark of Jesus’ followers.  It is what sets us apart from the rest of the world.  As Paul states, “Love is the fulfillment of God’s law.”

Just as Moses sought the presence of God in the “tent of meeting”, we too must seek His presence in our lives.  We must let His love fill our hearts and overflow into the lives of those around us.  It is through our love for one another that we truly live righteously and harmoniously.

But let us not forget that love is not merely a feeling or emotion.  It is an action; it is a debt that we must pay off daily through acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness.  It is in these acts of love that we truly reflect the love of Christ.

May we pay off the debt of love that we owe to one another, not out of obligation, but out of a genuine desire to fulfill God’s law.  And in doing so, may we bring glory to His name and draw others to experience the Love of Christ.

In our Gospel from Matthew, Jesus teaches us about the importance of resolving conflicts within our church, community, society, and family.

When someone wrongs us, Jesus instructs us to approach them privately and address the issue.  This approach shows love and respect and it allows for open communication and the opportunity for reconciliation.

If the person refuses to listen, Jesus encourages us to involve one or two others.  This method is not meant to shame or humiliate, but rather to seek counsel and support in resolving the dispute.  The goal is restoration and healing.

Forgiveness plays a crucial role in the process of reconciliation.  Jesus urges us to forgive our brothers and sisters just as God forgives us.  It is through forgiveness that we experience peace and true freedom.

Jesus assures all of us of His presence when two or three are gathered in His name.  This presence is not dependent on complete agreement or harmony but on our sincere desire to seek resolution and restoration.  It is a reminder that Jesus is with us always: in our struggles, guiding us towards reconciliation.

As members of Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, we are called to be peacemakers and reconcilers.  Let us all embrace the challenge of resolving conflicts with love, forgiveness, and the knowledge that Jesus is among us always.