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Such a short phrase. There are strictly speaking three words, but said fast sound like only three syllables. Yet they carry so much weight.

Imagine a scene in a public utility bus: A woman accidentally hit on the head by a passenger’s bag and turns around, with eyebrows crossed, to see who did it. When she is about to yell all kinds of invectives at the culprit, her eyes meet another lady’s fawn eyes as she pleadingly and humbly says, “I’m sorry!” The aggrieved woman merely opens her mouth wide, takes a deep breath, and sighs heavily without saying a word. She shakes her head and says nothing, and her anger slowly dissipates into mere irritation.

Another scene: A mother cries silently in her room because her teenage son just screamed at her and blamed her for a day devoid of fun. She waits patiently for the son to quietly enter her room, slip her a note, or ease his way beside her and whisper, “Mom, I’m sorry.” In a situation like this, a mother understands her son. Of course, a mother forgives her son long before he acknowledges his fault, but what music it is to a mother’s ears when an erring son says, “I’m sorry.” Yes, when the son behaves better the following day, the mother knows he’s sorry. But it is just not the same. Sometimes, not explicitly saying “I’m sorry” at this point could aggravate the situation. Even if the mother understands, there is no replacement for the overt statement of sorrow.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the Sacraments many Catholics find difficult to accept. They ask why they should confess their sins to a priest. Self is a sinner. They can confess directly to God. Many good Catholics say: “Why go to Confession when they have not committed any mortal sins? Why waste the priest’s time?” More people, though, do not go to confession because they are too embarrassed to confess their sins. My close friends tell me their children are embarrassed to make me hear their confessions because I know them. In other words, they would go to any priest who does not know them to avoid embarrassment.

Have we ever stopped to think how much we like to hear “I’m sorry” said when we are wronged or offended? If this phrase means so much to us and we are happier when we hear it said by an erring friend, can you imagine then the joy and satisfaction Our loving God gets when we formally go to Confession and in some manner say in a formal way through His priest: “God, I am sorry!” God loves us too much ever to let sin separate us from Him. Again, it is we who leave His loving embrace. He does not leave us and will never leave us. But each time we err and hide our faces from Him, we distance ourselves.

Each time we rationalize that we will confess our sins directly to God and not course it through a priest, it is as if we are not saying the phrase “I’m sorry!” Of course, God can see our hearts. He can see how truly sorry we are for our sins if we truly are. Yet the gesture of going to confession has the value of saying the all-important phrase, “I’m sorry.”

The first greeting of Christ after rising from the dead was “Peace!” Peace is possible for those who have been forgiven. How, then, can we be forgiven unless we beg for it? How can there be peace without saying, “I’m sorry” There are so many opportunities waiting for us to attain peace, and the key to it is a sincere and loving plea, “I am sorry!”

Jesus Our Light

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