Never a Stranger, Always a Friend
Homily for the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass for Margaret “Peggy” Dufficy (1949-2015)
Preached on June 15, 2015 at Ransdell Funeral Chapel, Harrodsburg KY
Readings: Job 19:1, 23-27; Psalm 23:1-6; Romans 14:7-9, 10b-12; Luke 12:35-40
Every time I came to anoint her and give her Holy Communion, Peggy Dufficy always greeted me with a smile. She would also fold her hands like a little Catholic school girl about to receive her First Communion. I was impressed by the joy and excitement that she had every time that she received the Sacrament. She received every Holy Communion as though it were her First Communion, as though it were her last Communion, as though it were her only Communion.
I had never seen any hint of bitterness or misery from Peggy, not on the first day that I met her, not even on her last day when I was praying by her side. She had been unconscious for a good while when I got called to Harrodsburg Health and Rehabilitation Center. Her breathing had turned shallow; her stamina had started to wane. But, suddenly, she opened her eyes and greeted me with that same smile. I asked her to make a quick profession of faith and cheerfully she did, before she fell back to sleep.
In the Gospel, the Lord compares His own unexpected arrival to a burglary (cf. Lk. 12:39-40; Mt. 24:43-44). That seems like a strange metaphor to use in reference to the glorious coming of our Savior. Yet, we must understand that, for those who have never had anything to do with Him, the Lord’s arrival is nothing but an intrusion. For them He comes “like a thief in the night” (cf. 1 Th. 5:2) who breaks into their lives to take away from their hands everything that they had ever held dear.
Peggy herself did not have a lot left in this world, and, when He came to see her that Wednesday night, she greeted the Lord not as an intruder who was going to steal the last of her possessions; rather, she greeted Him as the trusted companion who was going to guide her “though the valley of the shadow of death” (cf. Ps. 23:4). She welcomed Him as she always did whenever she received Holy Communion: with joy in her heart and a smile on her face.
Today, as we lay her to her final rest, Peggy joyfully leaves us all this reminder to get to know the Lord intimately, to belong entirely to Him so that “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). If we, like her, are always His, we too would never fail to recognize the Lord when He returns. He would never be a stranger in our eyes. His approach would always be like that of a friend who has come to pick us up and take us home.