photo | Gill Henwood
Today the church keeps the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
her birthday! So a friend of mine, Gill Henwood, has sent me a Rose.
I thought it churlish to keep it to myself so I’m sharing it.
Gill wrapped her rose in a quotation by St John Henry Newman:
Holy Mary, Mystical Rose, you are the most beautiful flower created by God,
in venerating you we praise God for his holiness and beauty.
In the hymn, Crown Him with many Crowns the second verse reads:
Crown him the Virgin’s Son,
the God incarnate born,
whose arm those crimson trophies won
which now his brow adorn:
fruit of that mystic Rose,
as of that Rose the Stem;
the Root whence mercy ever flows,
the Babe of Bethlehem.
The ‘mystic Rose’ referred to here is Mary but Jesus is the ‘fruit’ of that Rose and its stem and root – from whence all mercy flows.
The link is that Jesus and Mary are both engaged in the salvation of the world . Her‘ Yes’ to the Angel Gabriel, and thus to God the Father, opens the way for the Incarnation as she gives birth to Jesus. The ‘Babe of Bethlehem’ becomes the way God chooses to save us and free us and love us into His Kingdom, by the way of Cross. The Babe of Bethlehem is the instrument of that salvation Jesus is the God Incarnate born, who’s brow is now adorned with the potent symbol of the Crucifixion, the Crown of Thorns. Through this suffering and self-giving on the Cross the love of God, poured into Mary at the birth of Jesus, is poured out from Jesus Himself upon and for us all.
We are reminded that the Manger and the Cross are linked together in Jesus, or as T S Eliot puts it in The Four Quartets (Little Gidding) –The Rose and the Crown are one – Incarnation and Crucifixion totally intertwined in God’s plan for us and for our salvation and for the redeeming and re-creation of the world.
The result as Eliot puts it, echoing Julian of Norwich, ‘All Shall be Well’ All manner of things shall be well. We shall be well and though it is not always obvious, the world and all creation shall be well.
Enjoy the Rose. By quite a process it can be a sign of God’s inexpressible and unconditional Love for you – for all.
Thank you Gill. Thank you God!!!
Gill served as my colleague when she was our curate at Whitechapel and Admarsh-in-Bleasdale in Lancashire . She is a great joy to me.