“Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.”
Folklore can be especially poignant during the holidays not because it warms our hearts or makes for a magical Christmas, but because oftentimes there is more truth in the stories that any of us cares to realize.
The Wikipedia description of Befana tells of how the legend has a darker tone and weaves death and occult into it. Reading these descriptions, however, underscores so much of what we are seeing in Christian culture today and especially at Christmastime. The real darkness of the story is that it’s an apt description of many Christians today: we are convinced we are doing all the right things to have the title of Christian, but ultimately, there are many who will never find the Christ child.
There’s also something to be said about Befena’s atttempt to find absolution for her unwillingness to seek Christ by giving gifts to children.
Like Befana people hear the words of the church leaders but are too busy running their lives to stop to pursue Jesus. Sometimes after giving it some thought people set out on our their to seek the gift of salvation but fall short and never truly reach the Son of God. Research many indicate why.
The Pew Research Center revealed in a 2015 survey that only thirty-three percent of the world’s population identifies as Christian. (A 2017 poll Gallup reports says 75 percent of Americans identify as Christians.) But even among that thirty-three percent according to Pew, 91 percent are (water) baptized, 81 percent were raised Christian and as few as 22 percent attend church monthly or more. A separate 2017 Gallup poll found that fewer than a quarter of Americans (24 percent) believe the Bible is literal word of God (although 71 percent say they think it is a holy document — just God-inspired, not literal.)
So how does that all fit with the story of Befana? Worldwide people are ready and willing to take off work, buy presents for the kids, and take full advantage of the one time of the year where we celebrate the birth of the Savior and head of the Christian faith, but are they are too swayed by the world to commit to being a Christian and to want to live as a Christian. (Note, they want to live the righteous life of a Christian. They are not living so because they think they have to.)
Most of the people I meet and work with will profess to being a Christian, but that’s when there’s no pressure to declare their faith. How many would give up watching occult-related shows like Charmed or even The Good Witch or would they say there’s nothing wrong with such shows? Would people want to follow the teachings of the bible and give up partying and instead spend more time working for their fellow man? How many people would sit down and read the Bible in lieu of playing a graphically demonic video game? Do people use religious celebrations like Christmas as a way to feel good about themselves and absolve their guilt for not listening to the wise men of the church?
The poll numbers will give you a pretty good idea of what the answers to these questions would be. Some may find such answers disturbing — and for different reasons. But the implications are clear just as is laid out in Befana’s story — choosing to follow one’s own path may offer absolution, but we will never reach the Savior. We can pursue Him all we want. We can say we are seeking the Lord and want to be with Him with all our hearts, but our actions will speak volumes about our true commitment to Christ.
The works in these posts are written by either Randy S. Gerardot or Gregory C. Jones, web masters for betheone.co. Guest writers will be credited individually for their work.