Today's Mass is a great song to the everlasting love of God revealed in his covenant (love-pact) with his people... (Introduction to today's liturgy, 1975 Sunday Missal)
Yesterday evening, not long after the government's latest announcement of further anti-Covid19 restrictions, I lit the fourth candle on our Advent wreath. I sat with mingled scents from the Candles of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace, aware of dashed hopes, anger, and joy turned to sadness throughout our country. "Christmas is cancelled" was already trending on Twitter, as people vented their anger and frustration at last-minute cancellations of long-cherished plans for family reunions, and spending time with their loved ones who are not already part of their support bubbles. Christmas was also declared cancelled for so many businesses forced - maybe suddenly - to close at what would otherwise be their busiest time of year.
Except, of course, that Christmas is not cancelled, because Christmas, the celebration of Love becoming incarnate in our world, can never be cancelled. Family reunions, parties and plans and journeys can be, ditto nativity plays and carol services, but Christmas itself cannot be cancelled. The government can outlaw the consumption of mince pies, as Cromwell did in 1657; it can even ban any sort of religious service, as still happens in totalitarian regimes, but it cannot cancel the reality which is Christmas.
And Christmas cannot be cancelled as long as there are people who live love, share goodness, and are joyful hope for others - as long as WE are people who do this. Like Mary in today's Gospel, we too are asked to say YES to God's call to carry his love and life within us, and bring him to a world which is still in so much turmoil and pain.
How can we do this, for ourselves and those around us? How can we play our part in ensuring that, far from being cancelled, this year's Christmas goes on forever...?