Here is his worshipful prayer alluding both to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, and to the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Notice how Ambrose, as one of the early bishops of the church, asks for a memory that would let him sympathize with those fall into sin – rather than judge; to have compassion as an agent of God’s mercy. May we pray and live likewise.
Jesus, I wish you would let me wash your feet, since it was by walking about in me that you soiled them. I wish you would give me the task of wiping the stains from you feet, since it was my behaviour that put them there. But where can I get the running water I need to wash your feet? If I have no water, at least I have tears. Let me wash your feet with my tears, and wash myself at the same time.
… Let me always remember the depth of sin in which I use to dwell; and in this way let me sympathize with those who still dwell in sin, and so help to draw them up to your love. May I show compassion to anyone who falls into sin. Instead of reproving him, may I grieve and lament with him. Instead of looking upon him with contempt, may I weep for him, that through me he may know your mercy.