First, we have to seize the opportunity when it presents itself. The Three Magi found Christ because they set off on their journey when they saw the star, but Befana declined the invitation because she just couldn’t bring herself to stop her sweeping, which seemed so important at the moment. Into all of our lives, God sends stars and wise people who could lead us to Jesus if we would only allow our vision to be turned from the things that usually occupy us. What is something bright and beautiful and maybe a little mysterious in your own life that might be God’s way of catching your attention and drawing you closer to him? Who are the wise people that God has sent into your life, the people who could lead you to Christ if you let them?
Second, we have to join with others if we want to find Christ. The Three Magi had one another, but they also needed help from King Herod. Following the star got them as far as Jerusalem, but then they lost sight of it and had to rely on others to guide them the rest of the way. Perhaps Befana never found the Christ Child because she went looking on her own. Somewhere along the way, I heard it said that “you can do a lot of things alone, but being Christian isn’t one of them.” We need others to search with us, to journey with us, to keep us on the right path. But sharing our journey with others takes real courage. Compared to setting out following a star into some unknown country, learning how to share our struggles and joys with others can be way more frightening. Joining in a small faith-sharing group, coming to Scripture reflection for the first time, volunteering to serve with others in a new ministry—for many people, these steps will require great courage. But we have to share our journey with others if we hope to find Christ.
Finally, finding Christ really is a journey of a lifetime. One of the great virtues of the Christian life is persistence. It seems to me that the beauty of the story of La Befana is that she never gives up—she is searching still, and brightening people’s lives along the way. To some of us, it might appear that people who practice their faith have it all figured out, that they know exactly what they’re doing and that they have somehow miraculously discovered some secret key to having faith. But I just don’t think it works that way. Faith is not about having something figured out, but about sticking with the search, and loving those we encounter along the way.
Take Your Next Step: Look for the stars and wise people in your life who can show you the way to Christ. Ask God to help you in your search. Try praying this short line from a prayer by St. Anselm of Canterbury: “O my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you.”