The Rose Of Jericho
All through Christ’s life on earth the little Rose of Jericho continued to flourish, but when He died upon the Cross all these flowers withered and died away at the same time. But three days later, our Lord rose again from the tomb, and at the same time the Roses of Jericho came to life, and blossomed as a sign of the joy of the earth because Christ had risen. Because of these happenings the Rose of Jericho has ever since been known as the Resurrection flower.
When the flowers and leaves have died and fallen, the drying branches curl inwards, forming a round ball; after the roots die, the plant is blown around by the winds before lodging in a damp spot. The ball then expands again, and deposits its seeds, which germinate. Once watered, the dried-up looking young plants soon begin to bud. The plant was thought to be favorable to nativity, and was also called the Rose of the Madonna. It was believed to have bloomed first at Christ’s birth, and then closed at the Crucifixion, before blooming once again at Easter. Its other popular name is the Rose of Jericho.
When Jesus withdrew to pray in the desert, the Rose of Jericho, was dragged to his feet gently at dawn and after opening in the dew of the night, offered the Master drops of water from its branches. Jesus took them with his fingertips to his lips to soothe his enormous thirst, touched and blessed.
Mary was startled out of her sleep. It was Joseph. He looked serious.
“I had a dream”, he said. “An angel told me that we must flee to Egypt and that we will know more later.”
Mary was shocked – more nightmares to go through? As if the suspicious circumstances around the conception weren’t enough. Not to speak of the stable where she had to give birth.
And now fleeing to Egypt!
But suddenly she became calm. She looked at the infant and was convinced that the child’s angel would protect them on the dangerous journey because there were great promises associated with this child.
She remembered the three gifts from the wise men. They had to symbolize something good.
She had thought about the gifts. Gold must mean the boy would be a king like David, the incense that the boy would be a priest like Melchizedek, and the myrrh that he would be a prophet like Moses.
She still felt that something was missing but pushed the thought aside. It was probably just a mother’s ambition.
“Mary”, said Joseph, “are you dreaming again? We must leave. I’ll take the gifts from the wise men and you must find food and clothes for us.”
They gathered their things together and put everything in the donkey’s saddle bag.
Mary sat on the donkey with the boy. Her fear had completely disappeared. She looked at the child and knew that God would surround them with love and keep them safe. But the fear quickly returned when they reached the edge of the desert.
There was nothing but desert as far as the eye could see. And they had to cross it. How would they manage? Fear filled her again. She almost clung to the fear now. “This is too much”, she thought, “going through a barren desert with husband and child”. She drew the child closer to her to protect him.
They travelled through the desert all day and when evening came, they reached a cave where they hoped to spend the night.
It looked like the stable in Bethlehem. They were surprised – someone was already living there.
After talking for a while with the residents, they were invited in. A man reached out his hand toward the boy and asked perplexed, “How do you dare take the boy through the desert? There are so many dangers out here.”
Joseph said, “An angel told us to flee to Egypt but we will be protected along the way for God has plans for the boy. At his birth something strange happened. The boy received three wonderful gifts: gold, incense, and myrrh. I believe he will give gifts to people because he has received gifts himself.”
The stranger became more attentive and looked at the boy.
“I also want to give the boy a gift”, he said eagerly and reached for a handful of withered grass behind him.
“This is the Rose of Jericho. It got its name from the city of Jericho which lies as an oasis in the middle of a desert of stones. Jericho is fertile and gives life to many. I grew up there myself. There is a story about the rose. If you give it to a male child in the desert you can be certain that the child will have the same qualities as the rose.”
The man then told them about the wonderful qualities of the rose, how it comes back to life with the slightest bit of water, that it never dies, and that it doesn’t need any soil.
Mary thought this sounded strange. And the gift – it wasn’t much really.
It looked so poor and worthless. But then she thought about the qualities of the plant – so life-affirming. It never dies! It brings life!
That was what the other three gifts were missing. Her son would bring life to all who would kneel before him with prayers of tears and joy.
She looked at the rose. Now she understood. Her son would see what others did not see, what others passed by. He would be the rose that people would be drawn to. He would never die but bring eternity into time. The rose surely meant that he was the Son of God.
Mary accepted the gift and then looked around the cave.
A little girl who was ill was lying in the corner of her bed. Mary saw the bundle begin to move. Then she saw a face and finally a small body that stood up.
“I feel much better, Father”, the girl said happily. “I had such a warm feeling in my body when you gave the rose to the strangers.”
The man knelt down with tears covering his cheeks and said, “I know that my daughter will be healed. Just like water brings life to the Rose of Jericho, so will prayers of tears and joy make the boy give life to those who need it.”
Mary thanked him for the gift and knew that her son would be everything to everyone.
Four gifts could only mean that his gifts would reach the four corners of the earth and be valid for all four seasons.
She blessed the rose and said, “You, Rose of Jericho, will bring good news about my son who will never die to all the world and on the day of his birth people will take you out and rejoice in the miracle of your life.
Children will rejoice and adults will wonder, and you stranger”, she added, “Because you were encouraged to give my son a gift, you will know grace, the blessing that always comes when you give gifts to God’s people. You have already known it: look at your daughter!”
The man smiled and held his daughter in his arms.
A star appeared in the sky and guided the three of them and the donkey on their journey through the desert to Egypt.
A star appeared in the sky and guided the three of them and the donkey on their journey through the desert to Egypt