Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

In This Year of Mercy

by Ann Cavera


A line in Isaiah chapter 43 always catches our attention. Here the Lord said: "Your sins I remember no more." The magnitude of this statement is immeasurable when we consider what this means in human terms.

God teaches us that there are some things He chooses to forget, and we should try to do the same. It is difficult enough to forgive someone who has done us great harm, let alone erase the harm from our memory. God's love for us is beyond all human understanding.

Several years ago, an elderly woman caught us looking at a tattoo on her forearm. It was nothing fancy, not the kind that would naturally capture one's attention. Rather, the tattoo was a simple series of numbers she had received more than 70 years earlier in a concentration camp.

In spite of the years, she remembered and shared some of her memories with us. As best we can recall, she had lost all of her immediate family and most of her extended family. What we do remember was the absence of bitterness and resentment in her voice and manner.

Though the memories were still present, somewhere along the years she had come to terms with her feelings and gained inner peace. Our encounter with her was not long enough to discern how she had reached this state, but we did leave with the distinct impression that she had a strong faith in God.

If we take a quick look at what is showcased on television and in movies, we would easily conclude that getting one's revenge is part of the American way. It would seem that most people believe that turning the other cheek may be okay as a "suggestion" from the scriptures, but it just doesn't make sense in this world. The audience applauds when the hurt party gets its revenge, but not so much when revenge is not even considered.

InThe Joy in Loving, authors Jaya Chalika and Edward LeJoly quote Mother Teresa as saying, "In his passion Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility." Perhaps humility is the key to forgiving. In humility, we can wish the best for the other and refuse to seek atonement through the (false) satisfaction of revenge.

As humans, we may not be able to erase unjust harm from our memories, but we can let go in such a way that past pain is no longer relevant to our current life. The humble heart lives in peace and passes that peace on by forgiving often.

In the end, the ability to live in peace and pass it on to others may be the best "revenge" of all. In this Year of Mercy, may God grant us the courage to build a new future based on forgiveness and compassion.

Do you have a reflection on Christian faith or spirituality you would like to share? Click here to learn how to become a contributor to Echoes from the Bell Tower.

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.