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Chalice / Cup


Cup or chalice, in the Bible, signified the wine that it contained because the chalice was to hold wine in it. Cup in the Bible was a symbol of life with positive or negative meaning. In the positive sense, a cup could mean whatever God fills in one’s life (Ps 11:6 16:5), the blessings of life that God provides (Ps 23:5), or a thank-offering from man to God (Ex 29:40, Ps 116:13).

The “drinking cup” has special significance in the Bible. Just like many people have their personal cup at home for regular use, some Biblical characters had the same. Pharaoh had his own cup and a personal cup bearer. Joseph, the second in command of Pharaoh, had a silver cup, and he used to play a trick with it on his brothers.

Sharing one cup of wine by the groom and bride was a Hebrew tradition of betrothal. When the groom offered the wine and the bride drank from it, she was agreeing to share all the joys and hardships of his life.

In the negative sense, the cup implied the sufferings of life. For Jesus, he used the term “cup” in a spiritual sense to signify his mission of passion, death, and resurrection. So, when Jesus asked Zebedee’s sons, “Can you drink the cup?” (Mt 20:22) the meaning was, could they share the sufferings Jesus was going to undertake.


James and John did in their lives what they promised to Jesus. At the Eucharistic celebration, we share the cup of Jesus by drinking his blood of the new covenant. We gain sacramental grace and strength from it to go out to home and community for the sacrificial service like Jesus did during his public ministry. Then God would fill our lives with joy in this life and the life after.

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