“Man grows bread from the earth and wine to cheer his heart.” Psalms 104 :13-15
Wine is the most exotic beverage, enthralling and intoxicating to the senses. It has a rich history dating back to both the Old and New Testament times. It played an important role in various religious ceremonies. The sweetness of wine cheers the senses. In fact, the effects of wine has even sometimes been compared to the effects of love in terms of the delight and happy feeling that it brings on. Just as when wine ages and matures, it tastes better so does love grow better and stronger with time.
We are also all too familiar with the medicinal benefits of wine, being rich in anti-oxidants and flavonoids which are good for cardio-vascular health, it is also a great source of resveratrol, which has been associated with longevity of life, of course all this consumed in limited amount. An excess of anything can be harmful in life except for love which on the contrary needs to overflow at all times.
There is a popular anecdote about a couple who were sitting together sipping wine when the lady suddenly declared; “I love you so much. I don’t know what I would have done without you all these years.” The man is surprised at her display of affection and inquires; “Is that you or the wine talking?” The lady continues to look at her glass of wine and replies; “It is me speaking to the wine.”
To this day, Wine is used at every Eucharist to represent the precious blood of Christ. This is the highest significance that wine could ever have and the greatest privilege that it holds. At the wedding feast in Cana, we see how Mary goes to Jesus for help when there is a shortage of wine and He tells her that His time has not yet come. Still, in obedience to her will and eagerness to save the marriage family from embarrassment, He changes the water into wine and all those who drank this wine said that it tasted better and sweeter than before, they felt that the best had been saved for last.
Later in life, at the time of Our Lord’s passion, He states that His time has finally come as we read in John17:1,5; "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
He also declares to the apostles at the Last supper that the wine is His blood ushering in a new covenant and pledges that He will never drink any wine again until He drinks the new wine with them in His Father’s heavenly kingdom. Matthew 26:27-29; “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
Prior to this, the Lord had highlighted the significance of the bread and wine pertaining to eternal life in John 6:53-56; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."
When Jesus hung on the cross in acute thirst we read in John 19: 29; “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.” The sour wine represented the bitter passion but later the resurrection would represent the new sweet wine.
There are several verses in the Bible which pertain to the reference of wine;
Genesis 27:28 ; “May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.”
Isaiah 25:6 ; “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”
Psalm 104:15 ; "Wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart."
1 Timothy 5:23 cites the health properties of wine; “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”
Joel 2:19 The Lord said to his people, "Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations."
Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy where blood and water flowed from the pierced heart of Jesus. The new wine represents His saving blood poured out for the whole of mankind and which He continues to offer in sacrifice at every mass that is celebrated. The words of a beautiful hymn come to mind; “Only Thy grace, Thy love on me bestow, these make me rich, all else will I forego.”
We are the Easter People, walking in the light of the Risen Lord to a new life with the Lord, we share and taste the New Wine poured out by the risen Lord.
May we drink of this new wine filled with His mercy so that we can one day taste the very delights of Heaven.