We Become Like Our Friends — Funeral Homily for Marcella “Marcy” Pecha, 97

Who does Jesus say is blessed? Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes. He says:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…
those who mourn…
the meek…
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
the merciful…
the clean of heart…
the peacemakers…
those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.”

When you think about it, all these traits are present in Jesus Christ. Jesus is gentle, merciful, and pure. He cares about others and is moved by their sufferings. He’s the servant of God, of peace and righteousness, and for all this he endures trials. The Beatitudes describe Jesus Christ himself, but they also describe his friends as well, because Jesus’ friends come to resemble him.

Marcella (Marcy) PechaI know Marcy from celebrating Masses at Dove nursing home. I was blessed to give her the Last Rites (consisting of Holy Anointing, the Apostolic Pardon, and her final Holy Communion – which is called Viaticum) two days before she passed. Today, her own St. John the Baptist Parish is honored to offer our greatest prayer, the Holy Mass, for her soul. I found her to be a faithful and pleasant person, as did the staff and residents at Dove, who I am told cherished her as a sweet and motherly lady. Her family has told me a number of interesting stories about her and I would like to share some of these various stories with you.

Before coming to live in a series of nursing homes herself, she volunteered at nursing homes in Bloomer and Chippewa for some three decades. Being a social person, she loved being with the residents. She helped transport people to-and-fro in their wheel chairs. She danced with the residents – Marcy loved to dance. And she would sit with those with Alzheimer’s, chatting about old memories, so they would not feel alone.

Marcy had many memories to share. Being born in 1924, she grew up as a child of The Great Depression. And because of this, she had an understandable personality quirk: Marcy hated wasting food. Her children were always expected to finish their plates at meals, and wherever she went—sometimes to a fault—Marcy tried to save whatever food would otherwise go into the trash.

When Marcy was pregnant with each of her three children (Betty, John, and Barb) she appears to have taken on the spirit of the personalities each of them would have. While carrying Betty, Marcy’s natural timidity disappeared and she wasn’t afraid of anything. While carrying John, she always wanted to be outdoors. And while carrying Barb, she became especially empathic and tenderhearted.

Though not highly educated, Marcy also displayed a supernatural intuition. Once, her oldest adult daughter Betty was leaning over a car engine, attempting to change the oil while it was still running. Betty’s braided hair got caught, apparently pulled by a belt, violently injuring her scalp and requiring 125 stitches at the hospital. The next day, she called her mother, but before Betty could share her story Marcy asked, “What’s wrong with your head? What happened to your head?” When Betty told the story of her accident, Marcy said, “I knew it! I knew it!

Though Marcy could experience anxiety attacks she was not afraid to die. At times she would remark, even years ago, “Why won’t God take me? I what to go home.” (And by home, of course, she meant heaven.) On one occasion decades ago, Marcy nearly died and a defibrillator was used to get her heart back into rhythm. When they revived her, Marcy was very upset with the nurses saying that the previous moments on the cusp of the next life had been the most peaceful experience of her lifetime.

Pretty much all these things, I think, her special love and care for the elderly and infirm, her supernatural intuitions, her eagerness for heaven, were rooted in her deep Christian Faith in Jesus Christ. Marcy was frequently praying, attending Mass, or watching the Holy Sacrifice on television. On the Saturday evening of her death, Marcy’s family members offered to pray the Rosary with her and for her at her bedside, and they could see this gave her great consolation.

Does not Jesus have a special concern for the infirm and forgotten? Did he not volunteer to spend three decades physically dwelling among us? Jesus possesses a profound empathy and supernatural insight into others, with which he understands and loves us profoundly. Like Marcy with those precious food leftovers, Christ the Good Shepherd goes to seemingly unreasonable lengths in hopes that not one lost sheep would go to waste. And Jesus and Marcy were not unwilling to die, they trusted their Heavenly Father, were comforted by family, and were aided by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As I said before, the Beatitudes describe Jesus Christ himself, but also they describe his friends as well, because Jesus’ friends come to resemble him. If you love Marcy, and I do not doubt you do, then renew today your love for the One whom Marcy loves most. Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord, and God, is the one who makes all his friends great and glorious by making them more and more like himself.

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