Dear Father Bloom,

I have a question that I was wondering if you could help me with. Can you tell me if Jesus ever drank wine himself? And if he did drink, was the wine he drank alcoholic? I have looked through the scriptures to find reference to this and nothing I find answers these questions.

The reason I would like to know, is that a Baptist I know was putting me down for my social drinking, I enjoy an ocassional drink, especially wine. When put down, of course, I had to point out that Jesus and his disciples drank wine and I also pointed out the feast of cana and the wine scenerio. The Baptist stated that the wine that was drunk in those times was not fermented, thus not alcoholic. This comment began to disturb me a bit, because wine is the focus of our Eucharist.

Can you provide me with some direction on where I can look for proof that Jesus and those close to Him drank real wine? P. H.


Dear P.,

Sometimes I wish the Baptists were right on this one. So much destruction of individuals and family, so much suffering, especially to children, on account of alcohol. Even so the Bible, while warning of the dangers (cf. Sir 31:28-29, Is 5:11, etc.) teaches that wine (fermented grape juice) is a gift from God ("wine to gladden man's heart") and even medicinal (I Tim 5:23). There was such a thing as "new wine" (must or unfermented grape juice), but the New Testament uses a different word (gleukos) to differentiate must from true wine (oinos). It was oinos that Jesus turned the water into and used at the Last Supper.

While you cannot appeal to the Bible for a ban on wine and other alcoholic drinks, you can find much in the Scriptures against drunkeness. They of course did not name the complex "disease" we call alcoholism. The cure is found through a process of faith, repentance, examination, confession, amendment and witness beautifully set forth in the Twelve Step process. That would be closer representation of the biblical teaching than a prohibition. The Catechism by the way treats abuse of alcohol under the fifth commandment (#2290).

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom