a little wine

Blog by Susanna Bolle…

Let your hair down, kick your feet up, and allow yourself to simply be. This is what comes to mind when I read Paul’s words to his friend in 1 Timothy 5:23, “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illness.” Timothy may not have had literal hair to let down, but it seems that Paul’s words are meant to encourage his friend to take it easy.

The purpose of Paul’s letter to Timothy is to offer guidance for pastors who are ministering to a community. At the end of chapter five Paul gives us a glimpse into his relationship with Timothy. Paul knows that his good friend has been suffering due to poor health and severe ascetism. Because of Timothy’s great love for his community and his concern of causing confusion amongst his congregation (lest they believe he has fallen into drunkenness), he has chosen to abstain from any wine, despite its medicinal benefits. This is very virtuous on Timothy’s part, for he offers up his physical discomfort as a sacrifice, in order not to cause scandal or lead others astray. On the other hand Paul, out of love for his friend, is concerned for the wellbeing of Timothy and assures him that there is no judgment in having “a little wine” for the sake of his health. Paul desires rest for Timothy.

This verse reminds me of a late-evening at the end of this past summer. A good friend was moving in as a roommate, and she arrived to the house exhausted after a tiring six-hour drive. She was overwhelmed with the task that lay ahead of her: the task of unloading belongings and re-ordering them to their proper places. Since it was too late to begin such a feat, there was only one obvious idea that came to mind. That was to have “a little wine!” Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to rest before proceeding with our life of constant activity. Sometimes we need to step back and make time for God, our family and ourselves instead of letting a long to-do list keep us busy and stressed from dawn to dusk.

Pope Benedict XVI once spoke about how the people of the Old Testament “rejected God’s rest…and so they fell into the slavery of activity.” Yet out of love, God began “afresh to make them his very own, and he had to free them from the domination of activity…thus and only thus can the human being truly live” (‘In the Beginning…’). Let us make it our new year’s resolution to make time for rest and time for God. Let us be thankful for the blessings of every small joy in life, be it wine, the new beginning of the morning dawn, or whatever else He sends our way. By doing this, we can truly live!