MASS FOR THE MERCEDES STAFF AT THE START OF THE YEAR 2016

“I can do all things with the help of the Lord Jesus, who gives me strength.”

As you stand on the threshold of yet another academic year, I can sense your excitement and your trepidation: your excitement about the limitless possibilities ahead of you; and your trepidation at the challenges, which could range from the elementary to the difficult and even the complex. However, with St. Paul, I would like to reach you all with this reassuring message which can serve as your personal motto for this academic year: “You can do all things with the help of the Lord Jesus, who gives you both inspiration and strength.”

During the II World War, there was a 21-year-old American Corporal named William Devers, who openly and unapologetically considered himself an agnostic. Repeated conversations with and persistent attempts by his Christian colleagues and fellow Marines to bring about a change of mind proved futile. Devers was adamant, refusing to submit even to the sensitive and compassionate Chaplain.

This was at a time when the Americans were involved in a furious, unrelenting and merciless battle with the ruthless Japanese. During one such major encounter, many American marines were killed and even the army Chaplain was wounded. Struggling to catch his breath, the Chaplain called to William Devers. And then in a faltering voice he said: “My…left pocket…take it…please! Last night I had a dream. An angel appeared and told me to give it to you. Take it, son…take it, please!” Grabbing the Bible from the trembling hands of the Chaplain, Devers shoved it into his shirt pocket only to satisfy his wounded colleague.

Twenty minutes later, Corporal Devers’ squad stumbled right into the path of a pitiless and murderous Japanese patrol, and before he knew it he was on the ground writhing in pain and his mind fading into darkness. Devers thought he was dying. When he recovered consciousness, he felt a ripple of pain shoot through his chest, but there was no blood. To his stunned disbelief, he found that a bullet had struck the Bible in his shirt pocket and torn right into it. Mysteriously the bullet ended its journey at the Book of Psalms – Psalm 91:7-8: “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”

Corporal William Devers survived to share this very touching and inspiring story of the mysterious and marvellous ways of our Provident God. It certainly marked a notable change in his onward spiritual journey. With the apostle, Paul, he too believed, “I can do all things with the help of the Lord Jesus, who gives me strength.”

I sincerely wish you all success in every academic endeavour this year. May God bless each and every one of you with the wisdom, the inspiration and the ability to draw out the very best from each and every one of the students committed to your , professional expertise, personal guidance and sustained encouragement and so bring to fruition the good work that he has consistently and remarkably done in and through you in the recent and distant past!

Members of the Staff, I want each and every one of you to know that you are unique – individually created, intricately woven, and masterfully knit together for a purpose only you can fulfil. May God bring to fruition the good work that he has begun and consistently does in and through you!

God bless you!