By Rachel Batdorff
On Thursday evening, Dec. 15, young adults from around the diocese gathered at the Archbishop Noll Center in Fort Wayne for an evening of fellowship, food and an Advent message from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
Jennifer Kopecky, Fort Wayne young adult and campus minister, started the evening by introducing Bishop Rhoades to the group gathered in the Garden Room.
“During this cold evening, I hope your hearts are warmed through the message and fellowship,” Kopecky said. “Bishop Rhoades leads with humility, great passion and intentional relationships. This speaks to his shepherding, starting from where you’re at in your faith journey and building from there. We’re all here to build His kingdom.”
Bishop Rhoades began his talk, titled “The Mystery of Christmas” by praying the Angelus with attendees, followed by the theme of the evening’s message.
“There’s a certain wonder and awe we should have as we contemplate Christmas,” he said, adding that Christmas in its truest sense is a celebration of the Incarnation, and more than just superficial happiness.
The Incarnation makes Christianity unique. There is no other religion in the world with the belief, the unheard of idea that the Messiah would be God himself. We can’t help but be filled with wonder and awe at the fact that God is actually with us, the bishop said. “All we can do is approach the mystery in adoration.”
He went on to reference St. Thomas Aquinas, who stated that among the works of God, the Incarnation surpasses all. He then encouraged the young adults present to pray the Angelus every day to keep the mystery of the Incarnation prominent in their lives.
Referencing John 1:14, he said: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. … The Incarnation is not an irrelevant event.”
Bishop Rhoades then circled back to Saint Thomas Aquinas and his three points of the purposes of the Incarnation. The first is that God is revealing to us the truth about Himself and man. The second is that He is making all things new through the death and resurrection of Christ. The third is that He is making human beings divine as adopted sons and daughters of God.
The bishop distributed copies of The Nativity, a Byzantine art piece depicting the birth of Christ and mystery of the Incarnation. The artwork illustrates the symbolic darkness of the world contrasting with the light from the sky, the origin of the child.
Within the image, Mary is portrayed at the center, rather than the child. This placement symbolizes the reality of Christ’s birth and the astonishment that the Word of God became man, Bishop Rhoades said.
The presentation concluded with encouragement that those present would live the mystery of the Incarnation — particularly the virtue of humility.
“Besides humility, live poverty, evangelical poverty through the self-giving love of Christ beginning with the Incarnation,” he said. “Be generous, detached from material things.”
The bishop also stated that the spirit of how one gives is important. One of the gifts given this Christmas should be a gift to the poor, he suggested.
“Humility, generosity, and self-giving love — these are what Christmas is all about,” he concluded. The evening ended with discussion, refreshments and fellowship.
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