Publié le : 2022-09-21 08:58:14
Catégories : Religious News
In these times of harvest, it is interesting for us Christians to question ourselves on the symbolism of wine in our spiritual life. Mentioned many times in the Bible, wine, the vine and the winegrower represent much more than a tree, a fruit or a profession.
A symbol of life and blessing throughout the religious writings, the mention of wine has an allegorical content. This content is mostly positive: it is the promise of a land to cultivate, of a harvest after long efforts, and above all wine is a sign of wealth and blessing by God.
We will also see that wine can also have a negative symbolism since inebriation is a fault and can therefore be the fruit of many abuses.
As a result of all these mentions, comparisons and metaphors, wine today has an important role in the Christian liturgy, a role that has a very long tradition.
As early as the Old Testament, the vine and wine are mentioned more than two hundred times. Let's first go back to the many episodes of the history of the chosen people. By limiting ourselves to only a few passages, we will see to what extent the vine and the wine are an important symbol that participates in transmitting a message.
Depending on the context, the messages concerning the vine and wine are of two kinds:
- the vine and the wine are symbols of hope, success and wealth granted by God
- wine is synonymous with drunkenness, indignity, debauchery
One of the first mentions of the vine in the Bible appears when Noah leaves the ark. According to Genesis, Noah is the inventor of viticulture: (Gen 9:20) "Noah, a man of the earth, was the first to plant a vineyard. The planting of this vineyard symbolizes the return to the earth after the flood. Noah discovers the joyful effects of wine but also its dangerous aspect: drunkenness. From then on, the Bible, which makes the fruits of the vine a symbol, also transmits a message: that of moderation.
In spite of everything, throughout the biblical writings, the vine appears as a wealth given back to men by God.
On God's instructions, Moses sends one man from each tribe to reconnoiter the land of Canaan given by God (Nb 13 24-33). The twelve men bring back a branch of the vine on which grapes have grown, a symbol of future prosperity.
We can only mention here a few examples of the vine as a strong symbol in the Bible because the words wine, vine and vinedresser appear about four hundred and forty times in the Bible. This particular prestige of the vine and wine that was already found in the Bible was also widespread in the western world and we find many mentions of wine in other valuable writings.
Wine is mentioned many times in the Illiad and the Odyssey. In particular, in Song IV of the Odyssey, Homer (8th century BC) prescribes wine as a medicine against grief: "Helen pours into the cup of her husband a substance that dispels sadness, calms anger and makes one forget all evils".
From the Iliad and then in the Odyssey, wine appears as sacred. Among the Trojans, no meal begins without a libation of wine to the gods.
In the Judaic tradition, wine is used, in the context of Hebrew medicine, during circumcision. The rabbi sprinkled a little wine on the surgical wound on the eighth day after the birth of the child, as it was reputed to be haemostatic and antiseptic.
In the same way, Hippocrates (460 - 370 B.C.) already called upon wine in his medical practice to rebalance the humours, the disorder of which causes illness.
As we have just seen, already long before our era in many Western civilizations, wine and vine had a value that went beyond the simple drinking stage. The New Testament and then the Christian liturgy gave a new and increasingly sacred role to wine.
In the New Testament wine is generally used in feasts, as a sign of celebration. In the wedding at Cana, the sacramental value is established through the symbolism of wine. According to St. John (Jn 2:1-11), Jesus chose the celebration of a wedding to perform his first miracle. On Jesus' instructions, six jars are filled with water, the contents of which are transformed into wine when they are poured out to the guests.
The symbolism of the new wine appears several times in the New Testament: John, Matthew and Luke give us these words of Jesus in which he compares himself to new wine that must be poured into new skins. This means that Jesus brings the Good News through new people: a different message than the one that was already transmitted in the Bible through new messengers.
The new wine to be put into new wineskins is another way of differentiating his message, the Good News.
He renews the word of God, he carries a new message.
John the evangelist returns to this theme of wine. In chapter 15 he repeats the words of Christ: "I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser...". I am the vine and you are the branches." "It is I who have chosen you and established you that you may go, that you may bear fruit, that your fruit may remain."
During the Last Supper, Jesus knows that he is having his last meal with his disciples. He gives a strong symbolism to pass on to future generations to remember him and his words.
He uses the bread, which is also mentioned many times in the Bible. He also takes up the theme of the vine and wine which are dear to him.
As in all festive meals in the Judaic tradition, the bread and wine are blessed at the beginning of the meal. Jesus gives new meaning to this blessing as the bread and wine become his body and blood offered for the salvation of humanity.
It is in memory of the Last Supper and at the request of Jesus "you shall do this in memory of me" that the wine accompanied by the bread takes on a strong role in today's Christian celebrations.
During the mass, wine is mixed with water. The wine represents Christ and the water represents humanity, which is united with God in the sacrament.
Each mass becomes like an actualization of the celebration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. A ritual that Christians perform in order to be in communion with Christians throughout the world, to be in communion with Christians of all times.
With the New Testament, wine has thus become a universal symbol of sharing and faith.