[A]lthough God may have revealed or affirmed something to a person (whether it be good or bad, concern this person or another), it can change, becoming greater or less, vary, or be taken away entirely according to a change or variation in this person’s tendencies or in the cause on which it is based. Thus the event may not turn out as expected, and frequently no one but God knows why. God usually affirms, teaches, and promises many things, not so there will be an immediate understanding of them, but so that afterward at the proper time, or when the effect is produced, one may receive light about them.
Christ acted this way with his disciples. He told them many parables and maxims the wisdom of which they did not understand until the time for preaching had come, when the Holy Spirit descended on them. The Holy Spirit was to explain to them, as Christ affirmed, all that he had taught them during his life [Jn. 14:26]. St. John, speaking of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, states: Haec non cognoverunt discipuli ejus primum: sed quando glorificatus est Jesus, tunc recordati sunt quia haec erant scripta de eo [“His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him” (Jn. 12:16)]. As a result many particular works of God can come to pass in a soul that neither the soul nor its director can understand until the opportune time.
Saint John of the Cross
The Ascent of Mount Carmel: Book Two, chap. 20, no. 3
John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: Christ Preaching amongst a Crowd of People, an undated work in pen and ink with wash on paper by an unknown artist, is presumed to be part of the collection formed by Henry S. Wellcome. Photo credit: Wellcome Collection, London.