The Refiner of Silver
The Feast of the Presentation is at its core a feast of longing. It is longing that is behind Mary and Joseph’s fulfilling the law; it is longing behind Anna’s asceticism; it is longing that is behind Simeon’s piety. Jesus is brought to the temple as the embodiment of his Father’s longing for humanity. Who among us has not had his or her life characterised by expectation, anticipation, longing and waiting? We’ve all stood in that place waiting for life to change, for the grief to go away, for a prayer to be answered, for joy to return, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for clarity about a decision, for meaning and purpose, for healing and new life. We get up each morning, wondering if today is the day and we have to decide whether we will give up or whether we will continue to trust that God is present and working in our lives even if we can’t see or clearly understand how this can be. Like Simeon and Anna do we continue to ‘show up’ and wait for the miracle?
Simeon thought he was waiting for the child to show up but what if it was really God waiting for Simeon? Simeon’s time of waiting– and ours – is a time of transformation. “Waiting is the passionate and contemplative crucible in which new life and spiritual wholeness can be birthed.’
Sue Monk Kidd
In today’s first reading we have a beautiful image of the refiner of silver. There is a story of a woman watching a silversmith at work. As she watched he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, it was necessary to hold it in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot, then she thought again about the scripture verse “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”
Adapted: Michael Marsh, Andy Grossman