Michael Mitchell, LC
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Today I write from Port-au-Prince,
Haiti. I’ve been here for two blessed weeks
during the Christmas season doing missionary work!
My Christmas reflections
and homilies have understandably taken on a very Haitian flavor. The Epiphany is no different.
is a Greek word that means “manifestation”. The Epiphany the
Church celebrates today is the “manifestation” or revelation of the
Christ Child to the World. While we can
speak of the Epiphany with a capital “E”, we can
also speak of epiphanies with the lower case “e”. The epiphanies of each day are the simple moments
when we recognize God and his many blessings to us.
Just as to the Magi the loving face of God
was revealed in the form of the infant babe in
the manger, so to us God’s love is revealed in
many ways. A family meal, a moment of prayer, a
helping hand, the sacraments and a baby’s laughter are all
small “epiphanies” of our lives.
Adele was a small, frail Haitian baby
boy that we found in the orphanage. He
was an “epiphany” for all of us.
been at the orphanage for some days before we arrived.
His frail and malnourished body lay in a crib, his
arm fixed with an I.V. His condition was
quite serious. Months of lack of proper food
and water had debilitated his tiny body. His prognosis was
missionaries quickly took turns holding Adele, caring for him and
praying for him. The words of Christ were kept
in mind by all of us: “What you
do to least of these little ones, you do to
one who cared for Adele was conscious of the presence
of Christ. Adele was so weak he could barely move,
his breathing was difficult. However, his face radiated
peace and occasionally he would give the missionaries a weak
smile. Somehow in that tiny face, the face
of Christ was made visible, and all of us knew
baptized Adele that morning, one of the missionaries becoming the
proud Godmother. As the day went on and
Adele’s condition weakened we intensified our prayers for him. His
Godmother maintained her bedside vigil until Adele was taken to
the hospital, in hopes of better treatment. Adele however died
that evening, the news reaching us early the next morning. Life and death are all too common in
of the missionaries had a chance to hold him, love
him and pray for him before his passing. We did
exactly what we would have done for the Christ child
in that cold cave in Bethlehem. Adele became Christ for
us, we were able to see him with our own
eyes, hold him in our arms.
I can see
Adele now safe in heaven with Christ, a bouncing boy
full of life, running around the playground of heaven with
the other children. No more tears, no more pain. Just life and love. While the death
of a child is always a hard thing to see,
somehow little Adele’s passing was a beautiful “epiphany” for all
of us, a reminder that beyond this earthly life a
greater and more abundant life awaits.
As we gaze
on the Christ child this Christmas season, I pray that
all of you have received a personal “epiphany”.
Contemplate that moment, whatever and wherever it has occurred for
you. Like the Magi, we can truly kneel in worship
before the Christ child. And when you receive him in
the Eucharist, that great Epiphany of love, thank him from
the bottom of your heart!
Fr. Michael Mitchell LC is
a chaplain for the Regnum Christi apostolate Mission Youth which
has sent over forty missionaries to Haiti to provide spiritual
and humanitarian aid to the poor affected by the earthquake. Mission Youth has sent 24 groups to Haiti
since the earthquake, working in different parts of the city,
mostly alongside the Missionaries of Charity.