Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of the
classic book ‘The Little Prince’ expresses
it perfectly. “It is such a secret place,
the land of tears!” Tears are a world of
themselves, a very mysterious world.
What soap is for the body, tears are for
the soul, says Jewish folklore. When Adam
and Eve were banished from the Garden of
Eden, God decides to arm them with a powerful
healing instrument as they set out to face
the tribulations of the real world.
“Unfortunate children! I have punished you
for your sin and have driven you out of the
Garden of Eden where you were living without
care and great well-being. Now you are about
to enter into a world of sorrow and trouble,
the like of which staggers the imagination.
However, I want you to know that My benevolence
and My love for you will never end. I know
that you will meet with so much tribulation
in the world that it may embitter your lives.
“For this reason I give you out of My heavenly
treasure this priceless pearl. Look! It is
a tear! And when grief overtakes you and
your heart aches so that you are not able
to endure it, and great anguish grips your
soul, then there will fall from your eyes
this tiny tear. Your burdens will grow lighter
When Adam and Eve heard these words, tears
welled up in their eyes, rolled down their
cheeks and fell to earth. And it was these
tears of anguish that first moistened the
This is part of the precious inheritance
that Adam and Eve left us, the possibility
to tone down anguish with tears.
During the funeral rites, when the pain is
big, the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews
would not let their tears drop to the ground;
they would collect them into small vials
called lachrymatories. They would then seal
and bury with the deceased these vases as
a tribute to the departed.
I often wonder if we had kept every tear
shed in such a vessel, stretching back to
when we were a born …tears of pain, joy,
sorrow, awe, laughter…along with a written
story about your tears, what would our autobiography
say about the kind of life we have lived,
what portrait would it paint of our life?
Tradition says that God himself has this
small vase always in His hands in which He
collects all the tears shed by us humans.
So much He feels our pain. So close He is
Jesus Christ himself wept. He wept at Lazarus’
tomb, he wept out of concern for Jerusalem,
he wept ‘tears of anguish’ at the Garden
Tears and blood are the two things he left
behind that were part of himself. His blood
signified his ultimate love for mankind,
his tears bore witness to a heart that had
no limits. A man of tenderness and compassion.
Someone once remarked that “our eyes need
to be washed by our tears once in a while,
so that we can see life with a clearer view
again”. This is why the Scriptures are so
replete with tears.
There are tears of grief, like when Abraham
buried his life long companion Sarah. There
are tears of joy like when Joseph revealed
himself to his estranged brothers after years
of painful separation. His weeping was so
loud that it aroused the curiosity of his
The woman with a sordid past drenches the
feet of Jesus with her tears of gratitude
for His forgiveness. And the apostle Paul
reminds the brothers at Miletus that for
three years he had admonished them, day and
night with tears. He cared.
Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders is
one of the sweetest scenes of the New Testament.
“There was much weeping among them all, they
embraced Paul and kissed him grieving especially
because of what he had said, that they would
not see him again…”
Tears are words the heart cannot express.
However faith tells us that there will come
a day when “God shall wipe away all tears
from their eyes; and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former
things are passed away.”
Until that day appears, let tears water
soul, let them generate empathy, let
flow… God sees them and acts.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright