The 3-word expression “I am sorry” can be magical in its accomplishments. It has the power of music and can calm frayed nerves and sooth wounded heart. Like balm, it can console a troubled spirit and heal a bruised ego. “I am sorry” can neutralize heated tempers and blunt the edges of repercussions of misdemeanors better than a drug or therapy. It has the power to disarm the offended, who already intend a retributive action.
It must come from the heart and should not be mechanical or mere words without inherent force. “I am sorry” must be sincere. “I am sorry” is accordingly the prayer of one who has done something wrong. It is a sign of admission of guilt. It shows that one regrets what one did wrong and is remorseful about it. To say, “I am sorry,” means that one wishes strongly that one could reverse an offensive action. At the same time, one promises and disposes oneself not to repeat the offence in the future. To say, “I am sorry”, is to ask for forgiveness and to pledge amendment, where possible.
Stand Above Pride
However, it can be difficult sometimes to say, “I am sorry”. Yet it is a path of honor. It may appear humiliating to say, “I am sorry”. Yet it is a sign of maturity and character. Proud people find it too difficult to say, “I am sorry”. Therefore, to be able to say, “I am sorry”, one must stand above pride. When it is necessary to say, “I am sorry”, one must swallow one’s pride and take the path of honor. This was what Adam and Eve failed to do in the first reading of this Sunday and thus incurred for themselves and for their progeny God’s burning anger.
Adam and Eve sinned against God. It was a sin of disobedience. God came down in the garden and asked Adam, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Gen. 3:11). Instead of showing remorse and a contrite heart for his sins, Adam started to rationalize over his sinful action. He gave God reasons that made him do it and surreptitiously laid the blame for the offense on God himself—“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12).That is to say, “if you didn’t give me this woman, this wouldn’t have happened.” In other words, Adam is innocent of the sin. He refused to take responsibility and never uttered the words, “I am sorry” or the equivalent.
The Lord left Adam and turned to Eve. He asked her, “What is this that you have done?” (Gen. 3:13). She too refused to take responsibility of her actions and blamed the serpent rather—“The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13). Eve exonerated herself and refused to admit her sin and to confess it just like her husband.
Readiness to Make Amends
Both Adam and Eve refused to bow their heads in surrender and humbly say, “I am, we are, sorry”. There was no sorrow for sin. There was no repentance, no regret, no remorse and no readiness to make amends. They instead stood before God wrapped in their cloak of pride, claiming innocence. In this way, they also committed the deadly sin of pride. Their attitude gave God no choice but to banish them from his presence and from the abode of peace and joy—Paradise.
Perhaps God’s decision could have been different, if they had humbly fallen before his feet, confessing their sins and asking for mercy. They could have retained their relationship with
God, if they had sincerely said, “I am sorry”. But how often do we too make this same mistake? How many relationships are still being sacrificed today on the altar of pride, to the failure to sincerely say, “I am sorry”.