Thursday, January 6, 2011


Today in Italy it is Epiphany and also the celebration of Befana. Here is the information on Befana I found online:
La Befana is one of Italy's oldest and most celebrated legends. Each year on January 6 the children of Italy awaken in hopes that La Befana has made a visit to their house. This is a significant day to Italians because it marks the end of the Christmas season and the day that the three Wise Men arrived at the manger of the Christ child. Over the years the Epiphany has been a more celebrated holiday for the children of Italy than even Christmas.

Sounds normal enough right-kind of like St Nicholas Day in most of Europe. The legend behind Befana really grabbed my attention recently. Read on: (It's a bit lengthy but worth the read)

As legend has it the three Wise Men were in search of the Christ child when they decided to stop at a small house to ask for directions. Upon knocking, an old woman holding a broom opened the door slightly to see who was there. Standing at her doorstep were three colorfully dressed men who were in need of directions to find the Christ child. The old woman was unaware of who these three men were looking for and could not point them in the right direction. Prior to the three men leaving they kindly asked the old woman to join them on their journey. She declined because she had much housework to do. After they left she felt as though she had made a mistake and decided to go and catch up with the kind men. After many hours of searching she could not find them. Thinking of the opportunity she had missed the old woman stopped every child to give them a small treat in hopes that one was the Christ child. Each year on the eve of the Epiphany she sets out looking for the baby Jesus. She stops at each child's house to leave those who were good treats in their stockings and those who were bad a lump of coal.

Can you see where I am going with this! Of course it is all legend but I find it a very interesting one. The part of the legend that struck a chord with me is how Befana was too busy to go and look for Jesus with the Wise Men and now she spends her days searching and searching hoping that it isn't too late.
What a great application! God can even use legends passed down from generation to generation to make a point.
Today we find that so many people are too busy-they are busy studying, working, fixing up their homes, going here and there and they have no time for Jesus. How many times do we hear the excuses why people don't want to come to church, why they aren't interested in even knowing who Jesus is. Many say they will get around to it once they have more time, or when they are older. Remember the parable of the Great Supper? (Luke 14:15) The master had prepared a feast and sent his servant to invite many to the feast. One by one, they all made excuses-buying land, busy with family, busy with work. The master became angry at all their excuses! There is nothing new under the sun! The same excuses today as were back in the day of the parable. They don't have time come away and sit with Jesus. Everything else takes priority.

Sadly, even Christians have fallen into this category. Christians who once were at the church- for every bible study, every time the doors were open and something was going on, there there were. They didn't mind that they might lose an hour or two of sleep if the study was in the evening-they were going to hear the Word, be in fellowship. Fellowship and the Word were priority.

Here in Italy people are known for their dedication to housework. This is another thing I find particulary interesting about the legend of Befana. She was doing a good thing-cleaning her house. But, her housework took priority over finding Jesus! Maybe I am stretching a bit in my comparison, but please indulge me a bit :) In some cultures where women are all about their housework, we see Jesus and the study of the Word can take a back seat. It is like the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was doing what was good, after all, someone had to prepare the meal right! But Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. What was Mary doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening and learning-taking in all that she could from Him.

So, what is the point of all this??? Should we forget about housework-of course *NOT* just a joke!! Should we not do our job, our schooling, spend quality time with our families? We are to do all these things-everything that God gives us to do we are to do and do it mightily, as unto Him. However; none of these things should take precedence over Him and His Word. Spending time with Jesus and getting to know Him should be priority in our lives.

Just like the legend of Befana-she still searches today hoping it isn't too late. She rides around on her little broom hoping to find Jesus. There will be a day when it is too late. Don't harden your heart towards His voice, His beckoning, His calling.
Christian, don't harden your heart either. Don't become so preoccupied with life that you don't have time to sit at His feet. In Matthew 6 Jesus talks to us about not worrying where we will get our food, our clothing. He will take care of everything we need. Often times we mix up the order of things. We think everything else needs to come first and what time we have left over can be given to God. No, He says that we are to seek Him first, seek His kingdom first. He knows what we have need of. He knows our finances, how many hours of sleep we actually need, the tests and exams that are coming up. Take your schedule and give it to Him. Yes, be faithful in your job, your home-with all your responsibilities; but do not use what God has given you as an excuse to put Him off. He gave you that job, He gave you that family, the intelligence to go to school, the home you live in, etc. He gave them to us, but He didn't give them so they could take priority.

Let's make it our priority to truly seek after the things of God, to put nothing or anyone in His rightful place in our lives.

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