Shepherds, you who goThe Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 2
up through the sheepfolds to the hill,
if by chance you see
him I love most,
tell him I am sick, I suffer, and I die.
If by chance you see
This means: If by my good luck you so reach his presence that he sees and hears you.
It is noteworthy that even though God has knowledge and understanding of all, and even sees the very thoughts of the soul, as Moses asserts (Dt. 31:21), it is said when he provides a remedy for us in our needs that he sees them, and when he answers our prayers that he hears them.
Not all needs and petitions reach the point at which God, in hearing, grants them. They must wait until in his eyes they arrive at the suitable time, season, and number, and then it is said that he sees and hears them.
This is evident in Exodus. After the 400 years in which the children of Israel had been afflicted by their slavery in Egypt, God declared to Moses: I have seen the affliction of my people and have come down to free them [Ex. 3:7-8], even though he had always seen it.
And St. Gabriel, too, told Zechariah not to fear, because God had heard his prayer and given him the son for whom he had prayed those many years, even though God had always heard that prayer [Lk. 1:13].
Every soul should know that even though God does not answer its prayer immediately, he will not on that account fail to answer it at the opportune time if it does not become discouraged and give up its prayer. He is, as David remarks, a helper in opportune times and tribulations [Ps. 9:9].
Saint John of the Cross
The Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 2, no. 4
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: Архангел Гавриил поражает Захарию немотой (The Archangel Gabriel strikes Zechariah mute) is a watercolor painting executed in 1824 by Alexander Ivanov (Russian, 1806-1858). He used watercolor, white Italian pencil, and graphite pencil to create this artwork. Today, graphite pencils are used by many of us; however, both graphite and Italian pencils were available in Russia in the 19th century. The soft Italian pencil, which came to Russia from Italy, gives the drawing a quality similar to our colored pencils today. Image credit: Tretyakov Gallery (Public domain)