Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the readings of this Sunday we can see the tension in the early Church between the Chosen People and the Gentiles. The story of the Canaanite woman in the gospel of Matthew 15:21-28 is perhaps relevant to the people of faith nowadays as arguments continue among them that who is in and who is out of the Kingdom of God, who is saved and who is not.
Jesus uses very strong language, even shocking language to our ears when he refers to the Canaanites as “dogs not fit to eat the children’s food.” Of course this is not characteristic of Jesus since he is open-hearted and welcoming to all. St. Matthew used this story with such language for his purpose, to proclaim to all that salvation is for all, not only for the chosen people, the Jews. Gentiles are not excluded from God’s plan.
In the second reading St. Paul makes a point: “If the rejection of the Jews has meant reconciliation for the world, what would their acceptance mean, nothing less than life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). First to be God’s chosen people is meant that they have a privileged role in God’s plan for salvation as Jesus declares: “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). But since the chosen people refused to be obedient to God’s will by rejecting Jesus, God is still faithful to them, and the unbelief of the Chosen people paved the way for the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles as St. Paul said: “Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may receive mercy” (Romans 11:30-31). Through disobedience, Jews and Gentiles have sinned, but God’s mercy is greater than their sins.
And God’s mercy and love is available to all. That is at the heart of the gospel passage. Jesus Christ will not exclude anyone from God’s love and mercy. But those who think that they are more blessed by the Lord than others, or that their race or their ethnic background is more blessed by the Lord than others, should remember that the tables have been turned. The Canaanite woman, a Gentile, has received the blessing of God. Christianity is not the key to the Kingdom, but rather how well we live out the Gospel is that we will be judged at the end of time.
May God continue to bless and protect 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.