Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In John’s gospel, Jesus is first and foremost the one who gives life. Just like Jesus who raises Lazarus from the grave, the whole purpose of the gospel is that “whoever believes in Jesus, even if he dies, will live” (John 11:25). Jesus himself has triumphed over the power of death in order to strengthen our hope in the promise of the resurrection.
From our human experience, death has always been something scary that eats up our hopes and casts a shadow over our life. Remember that Jesus has come to show his divine power over the power of death, and this divine power is now made available for those who have faith in Him. The fact is that we all have to die, and the meaning of our death is to be found in the death of Christ on the Cross of Calvary. What happened on the Cross certainly transforms our death and this also means that death is no longer an end but a new beginning: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 25-26).
Looking at the raising Lazarus, this raising from the dead does not mean that Lazarus would live forever. Physically, Lazarus had to undergo death once more. From this we understand that Jesus is the very source of all life and the very cause of resurrection. It is not that when we die Jesus will come and raise us up in the same way that he did with Lazarus. No, it means that all life comes from him and all life finds its true meaning in him.
Even though the next life is beyond our human comprehension, here we should try to understand that heaven and the risen state after death is a wholly different kind of existence. In the life to come we will experience a complete otherness of heaven and the actual fact of a bodily resurrection. It is not a real resurrection unless we have our bodies. Our bodies will be resurrected on the last day and our “resurrected bodies” are different, they are not anything like those we have now, they are in fact removed from space and time so that we are able to share in the glory of resurrection with Jesus forever. When time comes, everything will be revealed to us.
There is a lot to reflect on the texts given to us by the Church on this Fifth Sunday of Lent to help us to focus on the promise of the resurrection that we are preparing to celebrate on Easter Sunday.
May God bless us all!
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.