Prelude: Rain falls, the river flows, then up it goes, to your town’s water tank. Down it comes through the mains, into your house and out your faucet. But to work, it all has to be connected, in and out, up and down. That goes for waste as well, sewage running the opposite direction, to a place where it can be filtered, cleaned, and then evaporate under the rays of the sun; distilled, purified, returning to the heavens where the cycle begins anew.
“Out with the bad, In with the good…” is every plumber’s motto. It could be the Church’s motto as well. Yes, good plumbing is a religious experience, more than you can possibly imagine, and is so-o-o taken for granted, you may wonder why I am choosing it for your inspiration. So please bear in mind the plagues of yesteryear that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of our forebears, all for want of sanitary and safe supplies of fresh, clean water, and dependable sewage removal. Wikipedia says the following:
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
As a Christian plumber, CA license # 299666C, I thought I should add my two cents to the Apostle’s Creed as only a plumber could. If you think about it, there are two kinds of pipes in your house. In Philly, we plumbers call them, ‘Go-zintas’ and ‘Go-zoutas’. Fresh water goes-zinto the house, and sewage goes-zoutta of the house!
“Out with the bad…” as in, God forgives our sins. Remember when Jesus said, 9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
What about the apostolic connection? Did Jesus connect our ‘sewer pipe’ to Peter? It would appear he did, for right after his resurrection, Jesus said to Peter, 21“ Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
The number one job of the local plumbing department is to make sure that sewage does not mix with drinking water! So first, to be a plumber, you have to master some very practical “rules and tools”; such as: Sewage runs down-hill. Cold water is on your right, hot water is on your left; pay-day is Friday, and don’t chew your fingernails! The ‘plumber’s key’ is probably the most important tool in the box, as it is used to turn on and off the water deep below the street. Yes, the key is ‘key’, as it is always the first and last tool to be used. That, and his hex keys; a plumber can’t work without them.
Did Jesus Give Peter any Keys? 8And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
“In with the Good…” Jesus Christ connects every believer to his life-giving ‘streams of life’ by His Holy Spirit, so that we might be refreshed, forgiven, cleansed and renewed. He told the woman at the well that he would give her ‘Water from heaven’, and she would ‘Never be thirsty again’.
Connected: The question that the Catholic Church asks and addresses is if there is any physical connection; is there a literal earthly ‘piping system’ for the blessings of God? (Say, don’t you think ‘Apostolic’ sounds a little like a plumbing term? Hydraulic? Apostolic? Well maybe just a little.) The Apostle’s Creed says that we believe in ‘One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’. We must never forget that at the Last Supper, Jesus did not entrust the New Covenant to random strangers, rather,
26As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church address ‘supply and return’ in a thoroughly spiritual and physical way, with a piping system that can be literally traced directly back to Jesus Christ with His disciples in Jerusalem and on to the Apostle Peter in Rome, circa 33 – 57 A.D. Both ‘Eucharist’ and the disciple’s ‘Holy Orders’ being instituted at the very same moment at the Last Supper.
In Conclusion: Next time you go a Catholic Church, consider the two spiritual ‘pipes’ that can be found there: “Out With The Bad…” One, the ‘sewer pipe’ of confession, returning your sins to Christ, by connecting through the Church to Peter to Christ, as the priest hands your sin all the way back to the Lamb, whose blood purifies the foulest stench. “In With the Good…” And next time you receive Eucharist, look down at the hands who hand you the bread, and consider that those hands received it from the hands that received it from the hands that received it…. from Peter… who received the bread from Christ Himself. Now that is a fitting, that is a weld, that is a connection!