I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school since kindergarten, so I decided to write about an important and ever-present aspect of my life. I go the Catholic Mass regularly, including this week, and thought that it would be relevant for me to write about because of its importance to me.
This week’s readings were about revenge and forgiveness. The first reading was a passage where God spoke to Moses, ordering him to tell the Israelites that they should not take revenge on or hold grudges on each other. The second reading is about how the Spirit of God dwells inside of everyone because everyone acts as a temple of God, and God will destroy people that destroy the temple. The Gospel reading is Jesus preaching to his disciples about forgiveness and revenge. Several famous passages come from this reading, including “When someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other one as well” and to “love your enemies.” Jesus also talks about how “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is not a good policy because everyone should forgive each other.
During the homily, the priest talked about how our culture does not always embrace the values that Jesus attempted to teach us in the Gospel. For example, we tend to take revenge on other people instead of turning the other cheek. Another example he gave was that people tend to do the bare minimum, instead of going the extra mile to help other people.
It disappoints me when people do not follow this part of the Bible because revenge tends to spiral out of control quickly, as can be seen in news from around the world. For example, Iran’s government threatened to retaliate by banning US citizens from entering the country after President Trump gave the executive order that would limit the ability for refugees to enter the US. Another example of revenge getting out of control is that eight New Mexico police offers and their families were targeted in a plot to use firearms and explosives to harm them. The commander of the police force believes that this plot is motivated by revenge. These examples show how revenge can have major impacts on people, whether it is in international relations or at a local level.
I searched for articles that discuss people forgiving others instead of taking revenge on others but had a hard time finding one. Instead, I found an article discussing all of the ways someone could exact revenge on their exes around Valentine’s Day and advocating for the use of revenge as a means of catharsis. This was disappointing to me because it reflects the opposite of how we should be living, according to the readings at Mass this week.
Going to Mass has been a consistent aspect of my life since I was a child, and I try to learn something from it every time I go. This week, I became more aware of how our culture promotes revenge instead of forgiveness.