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achallengeI was a little surprised in this second week of the Easter season to read that today’s second reading was Mark’s version of the gospel for the feast of the Ascension of Christ into heaven. Then I realized the date; March 25th is the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist. Knowing that, I read again the advice that Jesus gave to his disciples before leaving them “in charge” to carry on his mission. Simply stated, his advice was three-fold: humble yourselves, be sober and vigilant, remain firm. Each of those imperatives takes discipline, certainly, and we can expect some false steps along our way to perfection.

I checked Alan Cohen’s thought for today and found a little solace for the road. In a page entitled “Best When It’s Worst” Cohen wrote the following: Adversity is a gift if we make it work on our behalf. Challenge is not a curse or a punishment, but an opportunity to shine. If life were easy all the time, we would not deepen in love, compassion, and wisdom, or learn how to sink a pipeline into the well of true strength within us. Often we do not know how powerful we are until we are faced with a challenge that draws forth our greatness.

When an act in life counts, there is a source of strength within us that grows to meet the challenge. Some people demonstrate superhuman abilities, such as pushing a wrecked car off an injured person. Where do they find the strength? It was within them all the time; the worst brought out the best.

Whatever our challenges today, may we remember to forge ahead, remembering that we are not alone and that our strength does not come from outside us – in external circumstances or events – but from inside where the living Spirit of God is our strength and our guide.