Philokalia: The Tear of Repentance

There is an old legend according to which God said to one of His angels: “Go down to earth and bring back the most precious thing in the world.”

One angel brought a drop of blood from a person who had sacrificed his life to save another. God said, “Indeed, O Angel, this is precious in my sight, but it is not the most precious thing in the world.”

Another angel caught the last breath of a nurse who died from a dread disease she contracted in nursing others to health. God smiled at the angel and said, “Indeed, O Angel, sacrifice in behalf of others is very precious in my sight, but it is not the most precious thing in the world.”

Finally one angel captured and brought a small vial containing the tear of a sinner who had repented and returned to God. God beamed upon the angel as He said, “Indeed, O Angel, you have brought me the most precious thing in the world — the tear of repentance which opens the gates of heaven.”

— from Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality by Anthony M. Coniaris

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