La Befana: The Epiphany of the Lord

la befana

As children, my father would tell the story of Le Befana on 6 January. 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.
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.
The feast of Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the pagan nations. And it points to Israel’s place as the source of God’s revelation. The Magi came to seek the newly born King, the one who would be a light to the nations. Their encounter acknowledged Israel as God’s chosen people. They would be the source of God’s blessing, a living fountain of God’s revelation for all people. In the feast of the Epiphany, we rejoice in the worship of the first seekers. And we are reminded to honor God’s people who gave us the great gift of Jesus, our Lord. [Living Liturgy 2015]
When have you searched for the Lord? When has that search encountered road blocks or deception or wrong turns? How has God kept you on track?
As we look back on the story of the Epiphany, let us remember who called, guided, and revealed himself to the Magi: God.
The story was God-driven from the first verse. Let us not forget God himself calls us from the surface experience of daily living to seek something higher, something better. He is the one who turns us from those who expect experience into those who receive grace, pure gift, at every turn. In God, we find someone to give our hearts, our minds, and our lives to. We find the goal of our quest.

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Year B
How has God called you this week? How has God graced you this week? How can you pass your call and your grace along to others?
Here’s a musical reflection on Epiphany from a well-known source: