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The Eucharist - COVID and Creation? Living out the liturgy through the mystery of the incarnation

Fr David Jarmy

Written by Fr David Jarmy

We all know the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 – where Jesus multiplies 5 loaves and 2 fish, enough to feed the whole crowd with 12 baskets of food to spare. After they have eaten, the crowds shout “this really is the prophet who is to come into the world”; and acclamation often repeated in the Divine Office (John 6:14). Not a day or two later, Jesus challenges that same crowd “you are not looking for me because you saw the signs – but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that cannot last but food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:26).

Those who had been filled recognised Jesus as the Messiah according to their hopes for a kingdom when an abundance of material gifts would abound. But Jesus withdrew, he didn’t want to be part of their attempts to make him a political messiah.

Neither the crowds nor the disciples were able to understand the true meaning of the miracle. He had not come to end material hunger in the world – his aim was much higherand this was the Eucharist – which was still to come. And so in the synagogue at Capernaum he begins his first Eucharistic teaching – where he spoke about “the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:27) and the “Bread from heaven which the Father gives” (John 6:32). The bread is of course himself – and faith is the door to recognise this difference.

Feeding the multitude. Armenian manuscript. Daniel of Uranc gospel, 1433

For many of us, Eucharistic life has gone though some severe disruption in the recent months of pandemic. Have you stopped and considered how this has made you feel? How you have reacted interiorly to this severe disruption? It would seem odd if we’ve had no reaction!

Now is a good moment, as many of us return to our churches, to remind ourselves what it is that we are given by the Church in the Eucharist:

  • The Eucharist is the memorial of the Lord’s death – and also the living proof of his love – it is truly “in memory of him” that we celebrate it.
  • It is the blood of the new covenant – poured out for the forgiveness of sins – the perfect sacrifice.
  • It is Jesus’ flesh and blood as he himself said, and we eat & drink it to have eternal life and the promise of resurrection.
  • It is also a promise of closeness to the Lord – didn’t he say that he would dwell in us and we in him, if we ate his flesh and drank his blood?


The mystery of the Eucharist; ever deeper, never exhausted, has been entrusted to the Church and is received in the mystery of faith, as the priest says after the consecration. We cannot talk about the Eucharist without talking about faith. The Eucharistic bread and wine are given to us as they appear to our senses – as the hymn says:


Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;

how says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;

What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;

Truth himself speaks truly, or there’s

Nothing true!


This is what faith is; it is not to do primarily with feelings – God may give moments of assurance, comfort, and presence – but they are not the basis of our act of faith. The Eucharist demands our faith in the actual presence – and it is to this we say our Amen as we receive the sacred gifts and are incorporated into The Mystical Body of Christ – becoming One with Him in the Holy Trinity.

The Last supper paintin
A Kremikovtsi Monastery fresco (15th century) depicting the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his disciples.

But finally, to put the liturgy in a much bigger frame – an American liturgist Aidan Kavanagh was once asked “what’s is the liturgy all about?”, and he replied, “it’s the Church doing the world as God means it to be done in Christ” (Aidan Kavanagh, On Liturgical Theology, 1984, p.176). The liturgy, especially the Eucharist, embodies all that Christ has done not just for humanity, but for creation. Pope Francis picks this up in his Encyclical Laudato Si – in an inspirational passage he writes:

It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our ultimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love…The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist “creation is projected towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself.” Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and a motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.

Doing the world as God means it be in Christ, when we really consider the presence of the Eucharist in the matter of creation, we have the opportunity raise our work and actions to the level of Liturgy!

Fr David Jarmy

About the Author

Fr David Jarmy is a monk of Worth Abbey, a Benedictine Community based near Crawley, West Sussex. Fr David joined the monastery in 2009 and was ordained 22nd March 2021.


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