Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 37. Jesus made strong wine. Can't I drink it?

Drunkards who want a basis for their drinking in the Bible always quote, (Jn. 2: 1-11) forgetting all the other anti-drink passages in the Bible (Is. 28: 1, 3; Prov. 23: 21; 26; 9; Rev. 17: 1-2; Gal. 5: 21, Rom. 13: 13; Lk. 21: 34 etc.)

The miracles of the fourth Gospel are called signs. Concerning John 2: 1, Jerome Bible Commentary says, "The Wine of Cana that replaces the water of Jewish purification, the life-giving water that comes from Christ, the heavenly bread that is his flesh (6: 51) - all these signify the sacraments that are efficacious in virtue of his redemptive work, bestowing the Holy Spirit that is the life of the church" (Vol. II. p. 418). The water changed to strong wine is the sign of the change in the elements of the sacraments by the presence of Christ. Those who have Christ in them are already in the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit and they do not need the spirit of strong wine to boost them up. Even if we take it literally, we must understand the Palestinian local situation and the custom of serving only wine in the wedding parties as Palestine is a wine growing country.

The first miracle of Jesus is misinterpreted if it is taken as a permission to drink strong liquor. It is the mind of Christ that is more important than a particular event in the Savior's life. The mind of Christ was certainly full of sympathy for the hungry, the sick and the bereaved. If we have such a mind, how can our conscience permit us to spend the God-given money for liquor? An incident in a particular wedding party, where the honor of the Host was protected by the Lord in response to the intercession of His mother is no excuse for wasting one's health, resources, time and talents for drinking alcoholic beverages.

Christian conscience from the very early period has been against drinking wine even for medicine. Hence Timothy would not use it even as medicine. Therefore St. Paul had to plead with him and write, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (I Tim. 5: 23). We must remember that more families are destroyed today by liquor than any other single factor. Liquor is the greatest killer by so many means such as cancer, drunk driving, murder and what not?

Prohibition alone will not solve the habit of alcoholism as it is a negative approach. The Churches must be responsible to solve the problems of individuals who resort to drinking against their own desire by the pressure of circumstances and as an easy means of getting temporary mental peace as in consuming opium. Pastoral counseling must be one way of helping such people. Confession to the priest must also give the person all the benefits of counseling and much more. If a father is going to the toddy shop to decrease the worry about his married daughters of marriageable age, the church must have means to have those girls married through aid from Marriage Assistance Fund. All the churches must support the government's effort to impose prohibition and to make it a success. There should be no liquor advertisements. Young people must be brought to the joy of absolute self-surrender to Jesus Christ and the thrill of life and service in the power of the Holy Spirit that they will never go for the dangerous alcoholic spirit. Christian publications must have articles on the dangers of alcoholic drinks. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler" (Prov. 20:1).

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