It was the custom of the Cherokee Indians to have a young boy go through a rite of passage – in order to be considered a man.
The father of the boy would take him deep into the forest – blindfold him – and leave him.
The boy was required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the rising morning sun would shine on his face.
The boy could not cry out for help to anyone. He would most likely be terrified throughout the night – as he could hear all kinds of noises.
One’s imagination would go into overdrive – surely there were wild beasts all around him.
The wind would blow and the trees would sway – surely there were all kinds of dangers lurking in the dark.
But the boy – if he were to complete this rite of passage – could do nothing but sit and wait for the dawn to come.
Lonely, frightened, and afraid – one would have to sit.
But after the night passed and the rays of the sun touched his face – the blindfold could be removed.
It was only then – that the boy would discover his father was sitting on the ground, near the stump.
His father – who had been at watch the entire night – protecting his son from any and all harm.
The youth, who now became a young man – discovered in the ritual that he was never alone. And since he was never alone – he discovered he had nothing to fear.
The Gospel today presents us with a powerful story.
Peter should be praised not only for his courage – but also his faith. Jesus says “come” and Peter leaves the safety and joins Jesus in walking on water.
Peter looks around – it hits him how powerful the waves, how strong the storm, how devastating the winds. . .
Suddenly Peter finds himself sinking – going under in the fearful waters of the stormy sea.
Could it be that Peter’s mistake was that he took his eyes off Jesus??
Could it be that Peter failed to trust in the power of God that did give him the ability to walk on water?
But here is the best question: could it be that Peter is a good reflection of each one of us??
For all of us live in stormy times – more so now than perhaps in times past.
Each of us gets frightened by the harsh winds and the surging seas of problems and predicaments, illness, financial struggles and the uncertainty of the future which surround us.
And when we feel so overwhelmed ---- isn’t it easy to lose faith and just ---- sink????
Don’t we often feel that we can hardly keep our heads above water???
Like Peter, we forget that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. Like Elijah in the first reading – who is frightened by the strong winds and powerful storms ----- we need to discover that God’s gentle love is what saves us.
Like the young Cherokee – we need to discover that God is right next to us – protecting us from harm – even when we are blind to God’s presence.
To have faith is to trust in God.
To have faith is NOT to deny the storms around us. Rather, to have faith is to affirm that in God we have nothing to fear because it is only God who calms the winds. Only God who subdues the storms. Only God who lifts us up when we think all is lost.
Only in God will our souls be at rest.
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