Mass Readings: Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Gospel Mt 24:37-44.
The Mass Readings for this first Sunday of Advent provide us with a wake-up call – St Paul tells us that ‘the time’ has come and that we must wake up now and in the Gospel Jesus tells us to stay awake and stand ready for His coming.  What caught my attention most was the theme of ‘light’ – St Paul urges us to give up all that we like to do under cover of darkness and to live our lives in the light and the Prophet Isaias invites us to ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’ 
As we begin this season of Advent we are invited to come into the light – to remove the blinds from the windows of our hearts and to let the light shine in – remembering that the true Light is Jesus Himself.  He is the True Light shining on us and who desires to penetrate and posses our inmost being. 
This theme of light and darkness is fascinating – like a silver thread it is woven into the pages of the Bible – beginning with the Book of Genesis when “darkness was upon the face of the deep …. and God said, ‘Let there be light’; and the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, describes what God has in store for us when we will see him face to face – there will be no more night and He himself will be our light.
The struggle between light and darkness is a perennial one – it is the struggle in which we are all engaged – the struggle to keep our hearts free and not to allow ourselves to be enslaved by false attractions – the struggle to keep our hearts free for God alone. Today there is a lot of darkness in the world around us – more than ever before it is necessary for us, who call ourselves Christian “to cast off the works of darkness and let our armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.”   We must let nothing enslave us or captivate our hearts or impede God’s light and love from shining through our lives to a needy world.  
In this context I remembered a story about catching monkeys – seemingly a nut is placed in a net with a hole big enough for a monkey to reach in his hand to catch the nut but sufficiently small as not to allow the monkey’s fist to be released.  The monkey of course will put in his hand to grab the nut – but then he is faced with a choice: either hold on to the nut and lose his freedom as he cannot be released from the net without opening his fist or let go of the nut and retain his freedom.  Sadly he will opt for enslavement rather than let go of the nut.  Can we see ourselves in the monkey? 
We remember how Augustine’s life was transformed while reading this passage from the letter to the Romans: – after years of struggle and resistance, in one instant he was free to break loose of his past and come into the light – or rather to allow the light to penetrate and show up the darkness of his life.  So too for us, all our yesterdays lead us to the NOW of today and NOW is always new and different and must mean letting go of whatever hinders us from surrendering to the God who is lovingly awaiting our response – He has chosen to need our hearts to pray His prayer and do His loving on this earth.  Can we use these days of Advent to relax in the light of the His presence and ask him to draw back the blinds of our hearts and open our eyes and ears to His love streaming into our hearts? The following quote from Jean Corbon’s book Path to Freedom seems relevant: “Our ultimate liberation is to open ourselves to a new presence, and the peak of our activity is to relax in the gratuitousness of receiving.  The more the Lord frees us the more he gives himself.  His gift is a presence of light.  Our task is to open the blinds of our prison and let in the rays of his light.”

May His light stream into our hearts this Advent enlightening “the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us”- may we make room for him to be born anew in our hearts as we prepare for His coming this Christmas.