Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today’s gospel summarizes something new for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Their old law decreed “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In other words, they were expected to strike back at those who harmed them in any way. On the other hand, the new law of Jesus presented to us can be seen as a revolutionary teaching: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well.”
The main theme for this Sunday’s readings is the power of Christian love and forgiveness. People can see the presence of God when we, as a community of faith, exercise our faith in unconditional forgiveness and compassion. The readings also teach us about our right and wrong choices. The right choices lead us to God, and the wrong ones break our relationship with Him and with one another. For Jesus, love is a fundamental attitude that seeks another’s good. Jesus orders us to love our enemies and to be merciful as God our Father is merciful. Jesus also challenges us to do for others what God has done for us:“Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”
What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion is to realize that God is working within us, enabling us to treat others, not as they deserve, but with love, kindness and mercy. Remember, God is good to the unjust as well as to the just. Therefore, our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us.
Hatred is destroying the world. Jesus came to give life to the world. To follow Him demands that we fight off hatred in the world, beginning with that anger that is within us. People can see a power in forgiveness and love. Just as we are impressed by the power of forgiveness shown by characters like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, we are called to be merciful to anyone. We pray today for the courage to put love over our anger and our hatred no matter how justified we might feel. Together with Jesus, we can transform the world.
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.