The Conversion of Peter

And immediately, while he was yet speaking, the cock crew again. And the Lord, turning, looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word that the Lord Jesus had said to him: 'Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny Me thrice.' And Peter went out, and began to weep, and wept bitterly. - Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:61,62; John 18:27

- - -

1. It should not be difficult to spend an hour in contrition with Peter; if we would enter into his heart, let us enter into our own, joining our own offence with his, realizing how little has been our provocation compared with his, and yet how near to his has been our downfall; not so dramatic, perhaps, but has it not been just as despicable? We have had our warning and we have ignored it; we have had our occasion and we have risked it; we have fallen once with an effort, but the second and third offences have come more easily; in the midst of our wrong-doing the crowing of the cock has been heard, but we have hardened ourselves and gone on. It is the tale of every sin. There is always some excuse. We blame our circumstances; but how often are we not obliged to say that, in spite of them, the fault is all our own?

2. "And the Lord, turning, looked on Peter." It is a shock to discover that Our Lord had been there all the time. Peter had denied his Master, not behind His back, not in a distant place, but within His sight, apparently in the very same room with Him, perhaps even within hearing. "He saved others, Him self He cannot save," not even from such insult as this. And yet, with what effect! In the days gone by, when Jesus and His disciples were passing through Samaria, some people mocked them; and the disciples in their indignation begged of Him to call down fire from Heaven and destroy them. But He did not; He merely reminded them of mercy If, then, they had been heard, what now might poor Peter have expected? What in any case might he not have expected? For surely this denial cancelled his former confession of faith; this association with His enemies cancelled his vocation to the Apostolate; this weakness before a servant-girl made him for ever unfit to be called "the rock." Yet what did he receive? A look, a look of love; a look of love mingled with a little reproach; perhaps the lips moved and he caught the words "Peter friend!" as the traitor had heard "Judas friend!" in the Garden; but not a sign of bitterness, or of anger, or of intention to retaliate.

3. "And Peter remembered." To think that He could ever have forgotten! And yet we know ourselves how blinding, how deafening, sin can be. In the midst of the fascination all warnings are forgotten, all resolutions ignored till all is over, and the cry of conscience, "What hast thou done?" rings in our ears and tears our hearts. Now he remembered. He remembered the warning. He remembered the love with which it had been uttered. He remembered the Communion, the washing of the feet, the broken Heart of that evening. He remembered all the Master had done for him, all He had given him, all the confidence He had placed in him. He remembered his own enthusiastic affection, his great desires. He remembered all his past failures and the way they had been met. "And he began to weep." When will the tears cease?


1. We can enter into Peter's heart best by entering into our own.

2. The Lord, turning, looked on Peter.

3. Peter remembered, and began to weep.

- from The Crown of Sorrow, by Archbishop Alban Goodier