Posted by: fvbcdm | February 24, 2014

Feast of Saint Modestus (24 February 2014)

Today, there will take place here in New Orleans the funeral of a lady by the name of Myra Centanni Mehrtens. She was in her ‘70’s, a member of a very prominent family, and a person loved and esteemed by everyone who knew her. She had visited her daughter and was returning to her home last Sunday night.  As she got out of her car in her driveway, someone shot and killed her, then took her purse and jewelry and escaped.  So far, her murderer has not been captured.

Her terrible death has brought a pall upon this part of the city where she grew up and where most of her siblings, children, grandchildren, and friends live.  As I think of her life and death, I see a parallel between them and those of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  I cannot meditate upon the passion and death of Jesus without thinking of Our Blessed Mother and the thoughts, feelings, and prayers within her immaculate heart as she accompanied her divine son along the way of the cross and the stood at the foot of the cross for those interminable hours as he slowly and with excruciating pain surrendered his life for us.  What always strikes me is the contrast between the infinite worth of the man dying on the cross, and the utterly despicable character of those responsible for his execution.  The high priest was a proud, arrogant, close-minded man who accused Jesus of blasphemy, which means insulting God. The accusation was monstrous.  How could the second person of the Blessed Trinity insult God?

The order of execution was issued by Pontius Pilate, the pagan Roman governor of the territory who admitted quite openly and repeatedly that he found no fault in Jesus and wanted to release him. But the crowd of those agitating for Jesus’s death threatened to denounce Pilate to Caesar, the emperor in Rome, for not keeping the peace in Judea, so Pilate, caring not a whit for justice, tried to salve his own conscience by washing his hands in public, and then gave the authorization for them to kill Our Lord.  And not just any kind of death, but death by crucifixion—perhaps the most terribly painful death ever devised by the human cruelty.

Try to imagine what was going through Our Lady’s mind and heart as she stood there and watched Pilate’s henchmen nail her divine son to a cross. You have the dregs of society destroying the human life of the Redeemer of the world.  You have terrible evil being visited upon a man who is infinitely good, who has healed countless people during his public life, whose touch brought cures, comfort, and a new life to the blind, the crippled, lepers, the deaf, and even raised the dead.

Saint Luke says about Jesus: he went about, doing good.  Myra was a person like that. She went about doing good.  And she was murdered by a man, probably a drug addict, for whatever money she carried in her purse and the engagement or wedding rings that she wore.  Here is evil acting upon good, the living dead (as all drug addicts are) killing a woman both physically and spiritually alive and loved by many.

On the crest of Calvary, Jesus gladly offered his life for those who were destroying it.  His blood was shed for those whose hands were wet with it as they nailed him to the cross.  And because the heart of Mary beat in harmony with the heart of Jesus, Our Lady, too, had to love and pray for those inflicting such agony upon her son and herself.  I wonder if Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas the high priest and the soldiers who whipped Jesus, crowned him with thorns, and then crucified him—I wonder if they were eventually saved by the merits of Jesus’s passion and death and the prayers of his holy mother.

Today, many are praying for the repose of Myra Mehrtens.  But if we are Christians worthy of the name, we must imitate Jesus and his mother in praying also for the man who killed her. “Father, forgive them,” Jesus prayed on the cross. “They know not what they are doing.”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.


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