The Number Six

22 January 2006: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3, 1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7, 29-31, Mark 1, 14-20

I found this story from the book, “With Eyes Fixed on Jesus” by Fr. John Chambers SJ. He reflected on the second reading, 1 Corinthians 7, 29-31 by giving us the story of St. Henry. Though I have two other homilies below (one in English, the other in Filipino) I guess this is a good story when our congregations are sleepy --- and you want things short and brief. I am reprinting it here.

Nine hundred years ago, there was a young nobleman in Southern Germany. He was called Henry, the Duke of Bavaria. One evening, Henry had a dream in which he saw the number six written on the wall.

When he woke from his dream, he was convinced that the dream meant that he had but six days to live. He decided to put his life in order. He arranged his papers, paid his debts, forgave his enemies, and tried to be kind to all. He was very happy with the change in his lifestyle. But at midnight, at the end of the sixth day, the tower bell sounded... bong! bong! bong! And Henry, the Duke of Bavaria, didn’t die.

“What happened?” said Henry. “I have miscalculated. Now I know what the number six meant. It meant that I will die in six weeks. What shall I do now, for the remaining five weeks?”

Henry was aware of the big change in his life, and the added joy that came with that change. And so he called, “I will continue on the course that I started six days ago.” Henry continued, and he grew in happiness. But midnight of the sixth week came and the tower bell rang again. Bong! Bong! Bong! And Henry, the Duke of Bavaria, did not die.

He now knew that the number six is in fact six months. He had more time. During this time he became King Henry of Germany. But at the end of the sixth month, he didn’t die.

So King Henry thought it might mean six years. So he continued with his new ways, and in the meantime, became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. At midnight, the last bell tower sound, Henry did not die.

St. Paul said in the 2nd Reading that time is short. If we put St. Henry’s life in order, then it might make us happy! And even saints! We must not move when it is too late. It is always profitabe to take the opportunities to serve right away and to risk it. Shakespeare said it well in Measure for Measure (Act 1, Scene 3), “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we ought might win, by fearing to attempt.”

*picture by Neo Saicon SJ

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