A few years back, I remember a distinctly aggressive argument in our household about what is a sincere apology. Many a time, apologies in our home were 'If....Then statements'.
Example: 'If I stepped on your toe, then I am sorry.'
Well you did step on my toe.
'If I did, sorry.'
What wiggle room! That ridiculous 'IF' gives a measure of doubt, like perhaps I didn't really step on your toe, even though I can clearly see your toe red, hurting, and the fact that you yelped out in pain upon my foot on top of yours.
What reluctance to accept responsibility! Doesn't that ring so true in today's climate....It's not my fault, there's a chance I didn't do it, I'll find the wiggle room to escape punishment, don't blame me etc etc. Truth be told, we all make mistakes, and the true character of someone shows when they can accept responsibility for the action, and sincerely apologize. Not 'if' statements, but 'I did it' statements and 'Please forgive me' statements.
Think of confession. Imagine telling your confessor, IF I sinned by telling that lie, IF I sinned by spreading that gossip, IF I sinned by this or that, THEN I am sorry. Hummmm....it seems that the penitent is confused as to what a sin is - or simply knows, and doesn't really want to take responsibility for these actions. If truly confession is the 'I'm sorry' to God, and our confessions are NEVER 'IF ......THEN' statements, shouldn't our apologies to others also be as candid, honest, pure and well intentioned?
We accept responsibility in confession for what we've done. We can't hide there, God knows it all. Similarly, we must accept responsibility for what we've done to others in our own life. To a certain degree, if we have hurt someone by our actions, we aren't really hiding anything there either. The party we've hurt knows it too. There's no hiding or protecting oneself in accepting responsibility and showing remorse. If you hide, your apology is false.
.......Am thinking on that Gospel passage where Nathaniel meets Jesus, and Christ states, "There is no duplicity in him." Will probably blog on this more in the next few days....am meditating on these words and how it applies in daily life.