Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As Christians, we usually listen to the gospel message in a comfortable way. The Gospel message is proclaimed to us in a calm and relaxed way. Of course, the Word of God has the power to move within us, but very often we feel comfortable to listen to the Word of God.
Saint John the Baptism is different. He is not a comfortable figure in the gospel. He came to deliver the message of God in a loud voice: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths, every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” He even pointed his finger at the Pharisees and scribes: “You, brood of vipers.” He came with an urgent message to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.
Today’s gospel begins with: “In the fifteen year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee…” This is not the announcement of Jesus’ birth, the real event in the Gospel of Luke is: “And the Word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert and John went through the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.”
What Luke tries to say is that at a specific time and place God intervened in human history. God did it by inspiring John the Baptism to prepare people for the coming of the Son of the Most High. This is the most important event in human history because God, the Creator has been willing to become part of the created, to share our human nature. God comes to share our humanity so that we are made whole to share in his very divine life.
It was the good news for humankind and John the Baptism receive that news with great joy and enthusiasm. Therefore, he came out of desert with an urgent message to urge people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. It is the same with us as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Each of us is to be a John the Baptism. To be like him, first we need to hear the voice of God like John did. This time is one of the busiest time of year. We do have our planning for Christmas, Christmas gifts, party and cards. In order to hear the voice of God we need to set aside these things in order to be alone with the Lord, to pray and to hear his voice. Second, being John the Baptist we are to proclaim the coming of the Lord to all. All we need to do is to live the message of John the Baptist, to make straight the paths of our life in order to make room for the Lord.
May the Lord bless us with his peace and joy as we continue our Advent journey to welcome the Lord into our life.
Christ the King Church was founded in 1940 to serve the African-American Catholics in High Point, and has since become a multi-ethnic parish celebrating both the diversity and unity of the Catholic faith and tradition. Then-Bishop Eugene F. McGuinness of Raleigh invited the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement of Graymoor, NY to staff the new mission in High Point in 1940. Father Bernardine Watson served as the first pastor, originally celebrating Mass in a funeral home. Through the generosity and perseverance of Father Watson and several benefactors, a clothing shop was acquired for use by the mission. While Mass continued to be celebrated there during much of 1941, the mission community members also turned their attention to building a new church and rectory on Kivett Drive. The new colonial-style church was dedicated by Bishop McGuinness Dec. 14, 1941.
During the 1940s and into the ’50s, the Christ the King parish community continued to grow. A school building and convent were built in 1949, and in 1950 the Franciscan Handmaids arrived from New York City to staff the school. The African-American communities, both Catholic and non-Catholic, of High Point, Thomasville and Greensboro were served by the new Christ the King School, which opened its doors to 50 students in September 1950. The friars continued their pastorate in High Point for the next several decades, cultivating a faith community that became continually more culturally diverse over time. A stained-glass window behind the church’s choir loft depicts that diversity, with Jesus surrounded by four individuals representing the African, Asian, European and Indian bloodlines that make up much of the parish community today.
Lowering enrollment, financial difficulties and the recalling of the sisters to New York forced Christ the King School to close in 1981. The diocesan office of education converted the school for use as a day care center, which began its operation in August 1981. That same year, Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement arrived at Christ the King Church to conduct the religious education program and other ministerial work, including assisting at the day care center. The center, still located on parish grounds, is now privately operated and continues to serve the area.
Upon the friars’ leaving High Point in 1991, Christ the King Church became a diocesan parish in December of that year. Fathers Martin Madison and John Hoover served the parish until December 1994, when Father Philip Kollithanath, was appointed to Christ the King Church. Assisting in the advancing growth of the Christ the King community have been many commissions and ministries focusing on the spiritual , educational, multicultural and evangelical dimensions of the parish. Parishioners gather to engage in Bible study , to learn English as a Second Language, to put their faith into action in the local community and to celebrate their ethnicity. A Hispanic center and bilingual religious education program provide sharing and learning opportunities for English and Spanish speaking parishioners, and the parish African-American Ministry offers outreach programs benefiting the local region. The Women’s Guild, Altar Guild, 55+ Club and Young & Spirited Group are active in parish and community services, and the evangelization commission provides for the spiritual needs of homebound parishioners through its Visitation Ministry. The community of Christ the King Church looks ahead to expansion and renovation projects that will accommodate the needs of a growing parish. One hundred and sixty-one households currently make up the parish registry.