Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples were asking Jesus “to increase their faith” (Luke 17:5). The word “faith” means different things. It can mean the content of what we believe as summed up in our creeds. But when Luke speaks of the disciples asking for an increase in faith, and when Paul talks in his letter to Timothy, in the second reading, about the gift, “God did not give us the spirit of cowardice, but rather the Spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed of your testimony for the Lord, but bear your share of the hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2Tim.1:7-8), they are talking about the inner quality that binds us to following Christ.
The deposit of faith which has been handed down to us is the precious gift, but to guard it properly we need the Holy Spirit to live within us. It would be never easy to be a follower of Christ. It is recognized that faith is not the outcome of our human strength and willpower. It is the gift of God, the life of the Spirit, which gives each of us the strength to witness to the Lord and bear all hardships.
We are living in a world where it is difficult to be a disciple of Christ. On the whole we do not suffer threats and persecution for our beliefs, but we do live in an increasingly secular world which pours scorn and ridicule on religion. Our society seemingly promotes and fosters atheism. The fact is that over 90% of the media is atheistic, doing its best to advance their view. The media says that religion is in the decline in the United States. If religion were in the decline, then who is going to all these Churches, Synagogues and Mosques that surround us? The 2012 statistical abstract of the US Census Bureau showed that of 228,182,000 adults, only 34,169,000 or 15% of the country claims to be atheists, agnostics or have no religion. Therefore, we who are committed to the Kingdom of God need to stand up for the faith and for truth.
We have been entrusted with the faith. We need to take stands for all that is right and true, and we need to trust in God. It is not just the inner conviction about what we believe, but the inner strength, which enables us to follow our belief. This is not just a matter of pursuing our private prayer or public worship. It is the attempt to live out the values that lie at the heart of our belief. There is Power in our faith, the Power in people who are willing to accept being rejected by the society for the sake of the Kingdom.
We pray today for the courage to guard the Truth, to guard the Faith, and to stand up for 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.