Deacon Rodney Beckford, Director of Catholic Charities at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem, took on the tough issues of broken families, estrangement from the Church and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. when he shared his personal testimony at St. Gregory the Great Church in Crown Heights.
Deacon Beckford served as guest speaker at the January 20th event that celebrated the birthday of Dr. King. The deacon spoke about growing up in the time of Dr. King and becoming estranged from the Church for a time after the civil rights leader was slain.
The full story is published in this recent issue of The Tablet.
“God always sends a prophet to bring light into darkness,” Deacon Beckford said. “In our time, it was Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Like many biblical prophets, he said, Dr. King heard the Good News in a dream, and he proclaimed that truth throughout his life.
“That truth is that freedom isn’t free, that you have to pay the price for your liberty. Dr. King taught us that it is possible to make a way. He made hope our shield and faith our weapon of choice against evil, against sin, against the devil.
“What enabled him to march on?” asked Deacon Beckford. “It was the truth – the truth of knowing that the Lord was his shepherd, the truth of knowing that nothing is impossible for He who walks on water.”
Prayer, he told the congregation, was at the root of everything Dr. King did to bring about social change before his life was cut short.
“But don’t think that because Martin is in his glory that the battle is won,” the deacon said. “The devil is still in the ’hood.”
He spoke about the breakdown of family and society as evidenced by thirty-somethings becoming grandparents, siblings with different fathers, children being raised by grandparents, youngsters wearing improper attire and an overall shift toward self-absorption.
In these “confused times,” he said the way to “get back on track” is to walk the walk of the One who walked on water, starting with the Word.
He challenged the faithful to learn some Scripture by heart and further memorialize Dr. King by spreading the Good News and volunteering in their local community.
“If you want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, take what he has done and make something of it,” Deacon Beckford said. “Turn the dream into reality.”