Today’s readings speak to me of the spiritual balancing act that Christians face.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds the disciples that the message they are bringing is not one that will be understood, and will certainly not be accepted, by many. We "do not belong to the world," Jesus says, but rather to God.
And yet, as is so painstakingly detailed in Acts, we live very much in the world. We, too, spend our lives journeying from place to place looking for like-minded "spirits" while having the occasional door slammed in our face. Some have endured far worse. We get turned away from our intended destination only to be pulled toward places we didn’t even know we were headed. We screw up. It’s a messy place, our human world. We may not be of this world, but we are certainly stuck in it.
So how do we balance it all?
Paul tells us that despite–or because of–our humanity, the Church grew. Somewhere in the wilderness a voice cried out, "Come and help us." And letting go of all the planned stops on his ancient roadmap and pointing his all-too-human feet simply in the direction of a voice in a vision, Paul listened to the Holy Spirit and found his way to the right place: to a place where someone else, and then another someone else, and yet another someone else was hungering for the experience illuminated by Christ, of being in the world yet being one with God.
Maybe today we can take heart in all the ways the Holy Spirit and our own flawed but wonderful communities of faith, family and friends keep us headed in the right spiritual direction, remembering to thank God that when we are that voice crying out in the wilderness, there is someone there to hear us.
Nancy Nickel is the former director of communications for the Passionist Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.