July 23, 2018
Mass of Christian Burial for Ruth E. Twaits
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
For those that don’t know me, my name is Deacon Brian Wentz from the Diocese of Lexington, KY. I married into Ruth’s family back in 1999 when I married Ruth’s oldest daughter’s only daughter, Angie (I hope you followed that). Unlike Ruth, I am not a cradle Catholic. I came into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1999 through the RCIA process. During that program, we got to pick a Saint whom we looked up to or wanted to use as a role model. That Saint is then the name we use during the sacrament of Confirmation. I picked St. Luke as my confirmation Saint. I mainly did it because Luke’s Gospel has a unique passage that is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture. Why? Because it gives us all hope.
Luke 23:39-43 is part of the crucifixition narrative. Jesus is hanging on the cross with a criminal on either side of him. Everyone is mocking Jesus… yelling at him. Everyone except the one we know as “the good thief.” He pretty much tells everyone to zip it. He stands up for Jesus and admits that he and the other criminal are being justly punished for their crimes, but Jesus has done nothing wrong. The “good thief” then turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” To which Jesus replies, “Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise.” BEAUTIFUL. If you truly understand what just happened there, you will see the depth of the love Jesus has for all of us.
No matter our past. No matter our current situation. Jesus is always ready to show us love and compassion. The “good thief” was obviously a sinner and was being punished justly according to Roman law. But in spite of his past and even on his deathbed, Jesus hears his confession and then promises him Paradise.
Now… I’m not implying that Ruth was a criminal or had a “deathbed confession.” I am merely pointing out that Jesus shows compassion to those who are humble, loving and who try their best to live out a good life.
So I wanted to share with you two stories about Ruth that show us what kind of humility and love she really had.
Years ago, 3 of Ruth’s grandchildren (Scott, Mike and Angie) were at Red and Ruth’s house having breakfast. Apparently, there was a heated game of cards the night before between Red and Ruth. As they were still debating the game the next morning, one thing lead to another and Red turned to Ruth and said, “Oh Ruthie, your butt sucks canal water!” It was at that moment, so I’m told, that Scott, Mike and Angie spit out their cereal all over the kitchen table. You see… in that moment, I think most women would have pounced on their husband or, at the very least, had a sarcastic come back. But not Ruth! Nope, she merely replied, “Oh Red” and went on with her day. This shows that Ruth was a very humble, compassionate and loving person for not ripping Red’s head off.
The other story actually involved me. When I decided to begin classes to become Catholic, I was very excited to tell Ruth. After all, she had become my adopted grandmother since all 4 of my grandparents had already passed on. So how exciting would it be to tell my devout-Catholic-honorary-Grandmother that I too was going to become Catholic??? I remember Angie and I approaching her at a family gathering and I simply said to her, “Grandma Ruth, I’ve decided to start classes to become Catholic.” Without batting an eye, she turned to Angie and said, “Well, you’re not making him are you?” After we laughed and assured her I was doing it for me, not for Angie, then she said she was happy for me. This shows that Ruth was honest and really did love people because she wanted them to do things for the right reasons.
Now I’m sure we could go around the room and all of us could each tell a dozen or so more stories that are very similar to the ones I’ve just shared… especially a story about a card game or two! This is because it was so apparent that Ruth had a strong faith and a loving heart. She always made people feel welcome. She always had a smile and a hug to give. She was humble, loving, compassionate and showed us all how to live out the Gospel daily.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” We can now rejoice that Ruth has run a good race. She has made it to the finish line. Her pain has ended. She is at rest.
And although we are sad knowing we will not see her anymore this side of heaven… cling to your faith and visualize her joyfully dancing the night away with our Father in heaven.
“Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise.”