Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today’s Gospel reading revolves around the question: “Which commandment of the Law is the greatest?” Jesus’ answer “Love God with your whole mind, your whole heart, and your whole soul, and love your neighbor as yourself” was not new to the Pharisees and the Jews. Actually they recited this commandment almost every day.
So neither commandment is original to Jesus and there is nothing new about putting them together; what is new is that Jesus presents them as dependent on each other. According to Jesus they are inseparable one from the other. We cannot love God and hate our neighbor.
From our own experience we can see that it is easy to love God for God is up there in his heaven and doesn’t seem to bother us much. We can formulate an idea of him and love that idea. However, it is difficult to love not an idea but a person next to us. It is much harder to love a person who fails to meet up with our expectations, one who challenges our thinking, our lifestyles and our daily attitudes.
Here, the definition of “our neighbor” is widened by Jesus to include everyone. Our neighbor includes the people next door but it also includes our own family and all the people with whom we are acquainted. Jesus even goes further to include our enemies, our opponents. He includes people at the furthest corner of the globe, people from our cities, people whose culture and way of life are quite alien to us. Among our neighbors are the unborn, the elderly, the homeless, the drug addict, and the mentally ill.
Yes, Christianity is not an easy way; it is a challenge for all of us to be like Jesus, to love God and our neighbor. Christianity is indeed an ongoing process of becoming like Jesus. Everyday we take steps to becoming a Christian by striving to serve God through loving our neighbor.
We pray today that we might love God with our soul, and then we are able to bring God’s love to those around us.
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.