A meditation by St Ambrose of Milan
Peter became saddened and cried because he erred like all men. I cannot find what he said; I find only that he cried. I read his tears; I do not read what he gave in recompense. But what cannot be excused, can be cleansed.
Tears speak of the offence without horrifying. Tears recignise the sin without causing one to blush. Tears do not ask forgiveness, but they merit it. I discovered why Peter remained silent, so that asking for forgiveness so quickly he would not further increase his guilt.
First we must cry, then we must pray; excellent tears so that they cleanse the guilt. Indeed, those who see Christ’s gaze begin to cry. Peter denied Him a first time but did not shed a tear because the Lord’s gaze did not meet his. He denied Him a second time and he did not shed a tear because the Lord’s gaze had not yet come upon him. He denied Him a third time; Christ’s gaze fell upon him and he cried bitterly.
Gaze upon us, Lord Jesus, so that we may learn to cry for our sins.