Let go and let God …

Yesterday’s reflection focused on the parish and the young worker, indeed a timely reflection for me. I have been reading some of the stories told through the government report on the underpayment of workers in Australia and it has left me distressed. The committee behind the report gathered evidence from around Australia, including evidence of the underpayment of young workers. One regional organisation reported that 65% of the young workers being assisted by them reported wage theft issues impacting their lives. 

A young worker’s life is about more than just the wage they are paid. In yesterday’s reflection, a quote from a talk given by Fr Joseph Cardijn highlighted “the dangers to which they [young workers] are exposed” and he named areas of their lives where they are tempted to be less than themselves. Cardijn said on another occasion, “Left to themselves, young workers cannot possibly recognise their own dignity and fulfil their mission. They are incapable of understanding it with no one to help them, form them and uphold them.”

When I think about the young workers I see at Mass every Sunday evening, I wonder, “What does my parish do to help them, form them and uphold them? Our parish priest has invited them to form a young adults group. Some have responded to the invitation. And some have undertaken to be leaders in the youth group that meets after the evening Mass every other Sunday. This is an action that has flowed from the group that has been formed by him.

Cardijn committed his life to accompanying young workers and training young leaders as apostles to the workers. His faith in Jesus motivated him and he sought to communicate with young people about the centrality of Jesus in their vocation as workers. He said of them in the first lecture of the 1949 Godinne series of lectures, that “they are not criminals sentenced to a life of servitude, but the sons and daughters of God who have a magnificent, sacred, divine mission in their life and work.” I hope this is the message the young in our parish hear from our priest. 

The Gospel reading for today’s Mass (Mark 7:24-30) presents us with a story about the power of faith in Jesus. A Syrophoenician woman appeals to Jesus to save her daughter. The story seems to focus on the verbal jousting that goes on between Jesus and the woman. I think Mark was inspired to write about “faith without borders.” God is passionate about everyone and he invites each into a relationship that is both human and divine. The distressed woman was responding to that invitation from the depths of her despair. She knew that she had to “let go and let God” be creator, redeemer and saviour. Jesus recognised this in the woman’s appeal and he told her to go home to her daughter who had been healed. 

God is present in our world and is engaged in the work of overcoming the power of evil. The temporal destiny of all workers is a life lived in the presence of God, a life marked by productivity and the joy of contributing to the wellbeing of others. This cannot be achieved without God. To act without God is to slow the progress of the triumph of good over evil. God intends us to act in ways that, upon reflection in the spirit of the Creator, we can say, “And it was good.” 

When I continue with my reading of the report into the underpayment of workers in Australia, I will look for signs of the presence of God and be thankful for the work being done to overcome evil. Being thankful in prayer; expressing appreciation for the work of those who participate in God’s work of completing creation through acts of restorative justice; and responding as God’s instruments of salvation to the needs of people around us: these are actions that we can all undertake each day as we work in God’s presence.


Pat Branson

Read more 

The Senate Economics References Committee – Unlawful underpayment of employees’ remuneration

The young worker faces life – The 1949 Godinne series of lectures

3 Replies to “Let go and let God …”

  1. It is interesting that you report that 65% of young workers in a region of Australia are reported as being underpaid indicates two very important points. One is that it seems that those young workers have not been informed of the history of worker action in Australia in forming and belonging to trade unions and secondly, that a Christian worker movement has not been developed in Australia to promote the importance of trade union that represent workers.

    1. That is a very pertinent observation, Kevin.

      I would also ask, what are the numerous parishes and Catholic schools in regional Australia doing about this?

  2. Kevin, you commented on one part of my reflection posted in the JCDL. I went back to the Senate Committee report and checked the source of the statement regarding young workers not knowing their rights. It came from the Young Workers Centre (YWC), which is affiliated with the Victorian Trades Hall Council. A visit to their website will show their intention to inform young workers of their rights. It appears also that they visit schools to speak with students about life beyond school and their rights and responsibilities as workers.

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