Today we read how Noah planted a vineyard, drank wine, and became drunk, with his nakedness exposed. The Fathers see both the wine and his nakedness as deeply symbolic and as prefiguring the passion of Jesus Christ. Saint Cyprian of Carthage writes,
When Christ says, ‘I am the true vine,’ the blood of Christ is assuredly not water but wine. We are redeemed and made alive by His blood. But in the cup it is not wine as such that redeems but His blood. This is declared by the sacrament and testimony of all the Scriptures. For we find this even in Genesis also, in respect of the sacrament prefigured in Noah. That he drank wine was to them a precursor and figure of the Lord’s passion. Noah was made drunk by this wine, was made naked in his household, was lying down with his thighs naked and exposed, and the nakedness of the father was observed by his second son and was told abroad but was covered by two, the eldest and the youngest, and other matters which it is not necessary to follow out. It is enough for us simply to embrace the understanding that Noah set forth a type of the future truth. Noah did not drink water but wine and thus expressed in advance the figure of the passion of the Lord.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 9:18-10:1:
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.
Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.” After the flood Noah lived three hundred and fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died. These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood.