Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For people who are sick, waiting is a daily part of life. It may be waiting for an appointment with the doctor or at the hospital for treatments. It may be waiting for the result of the test. Healing from sickness takes time and waiting is part of our life. The theme of waiting is found in each of the readings for this Sunday. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah writes to the Jewish people in exile in Babylon. Babylon is like a wilderness for them as they long for their homeland. He offers them hope that God, who seems distant, will save them once more and lead them to freedom. God will intervene in the lives of those who are waiting in exile, waiting to see God face to face.
In the second reading, when St Paul wrote to the Christian Church at Corinth, there was an expectation that the Second Coming was imminent. Having rejoiced in the resurrection, the Christian community expected Jesus to return very shortly as he had promised. As the early Christians waited, they could easily become distracted, tend to lose heart and fail to trust in God. Paul reminds them that the Lord will keep his promises; he will come in His time. He encourages them to continue to trust in God and that God will provide for them during their waiting.
The theme of waiting dominates the gospel. Jesus encourages his followers to stay alert and awake as they wait for Christ to return. The people to whom St Mark wrote needed to be sustained in their faith as they faced adversity and persecution. St Mark encouraged his fellow Christians to be alert and ready.
For the sick, waiting for the medical appointment or the healing of illness can lead to despair. Today’s Mass offers a message of hope that waiting is not in vain. God will sustain those who wait and trust in God. God is close although God may feel very distant. Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Yet God did not abandon his Son.
Advent is a reminder that Christians are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. As we await the celebration of Christ’s birth, this season is an opportunity to focus once more on Christ, who is the deepest meaning of Christmas. He is the gift that can bring true hope and joy to those who long for new life.
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.