“‘I can’t breathe’. Three words that express so much of what’s wrong with world today” — hard-hitting homily at Limerick Novena

Aine Fitzgerald

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Aine Fitzgerald

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aine.fitzgerald@limerickleader.ie

“‘I can’t breathe’. Three words that express so much of what’s wrong with world today”-  hard-hitting homily at Limerick Novena

Fr Gerry Moloney, pictured giving his homily on Friday, said: 'Covid-19 has been that rare plague that has affected everyone in some way'

THE three small words "I can’t breathe" describe so much of what is wrong with the world today, worshippers tuning into The Limerick Novena have heard.

In a hard-hitting homily on the opening day of the hugely popular Novena in Limerick city, Fr Gerry Moloney described the last gasping words uttered by slain George Floyd as the “wearied”, “jaded”, “exhausted cry” of those discriminated against in society today.

“Last month, as George Floyd choked under a policeman’s heavy knee in Minneapolis, his last gasping words were, ‘I can’t breathe’,” Fr Moloney said.

“‘I can’t breathe’ also describes the experience of victims of Covid-19, struggling frantically for air. It describes so much of our human experience,” Fr Moloney continued.

He said the words are “an expression of the wearied cry of the world’s poor, who have been hit hardest by this pandemic”

They are, he said, “the jaded cry of those continuously crushed by racism, in Ireland as well as overseas".

They are, he noted, the "exhausted cry of women and LGBT people and all who suffer discrimination. The plaintive cry of our plundered planet".

“‘I can’t breathe…’ Three little words that express so much of what’s wrong with our world today, problems compounded by the pandemic. Three little words that remind us of the work we need to do if we are to love and care for each other as we should.”

A member of the Redemptorist Community in Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick city, Fr Moloney was speaking in a near empty Redemptorist Church on Friday. But thousands listened to his words as they were streamed live over the webcam on the first of the nine days of the Novena. The Novena received over 19,000 hits for the novena on Friday - a record for The Redemptorist Church site.

Speaking directly about Covid-19, Fr Moloney said that unlike the recession of 2008, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every country, “has tested and tormented us—the deepest depression in a century”.

“Covid-19 has been that rare plague that has affected everyone in some way,” he said.

“It has cut across differences of age, gender, ethnicity, wreaking devastation and despair. It has brought sickness, death, loss, loneliness, isolation, domestic violence, collapsed credit, closed churches, shuttered shops, deserted workplaces.”

But while he said that over these past few months “all changed utterly”, it has not all been for the bad. 

“Some change has been positive,” Fr Moloney noted.

“Our sense of connectedness has deepened. Physical distancing has reminded us to treasure our relationships, to nurture them, to never take them for granted. It has reminded us of those priceless traditional values we were in danger of letting go – community, neighbourliness, solidarity, empathy, concern for one another.”

Fr Moloney highlighted our  “new appreciation for health care and front line workers, those often overlooked, overworked and underpaid”. 

“We are reminded that those who hold many of the most critical jobs don’t have fancy degrees or smart suits or posh addresses; that without these essential workers, society would crumble. We’ve been invited to value people and jobs that often we disregard.”

And, he said, planet earth has “had a chance to catch its breath. Smog lifted, air pollution plummeted, waterways cleared, fauna and flora flourished, nature nurtured—a real springtime for our common home.”

The Limerick Novena will be streamed online at www.novena.ie/web-cam each day until June 27. Novena Mass times are 8am, 10am, 7.15pm and 9pm.

See next weekend’s Limerick Leader for more