For four weeks now we have done our best to respond to the invitation: «Repent and believe in the gospel!» For most of us it will have been four weeks in which we have also, in one way or another – or several – experienced the truth of the statement that we «are dust and shall return to dust». 

This experience opens us for the second part of Lent, Passiontide: the crescendo leading up to the climax of the liturgical year in Holy Week and the Pascal Triduum. It demonstrates for us in no ambiguous terms that we cannot save ourselves. Our good resolutions are rarely long-lasting, our forces run out when we try to draw from our own reserves, our will is bent this way and that, and at least we feel ourselves to be limited by time and space. We need this yearly reminder that salvation is found in receiving the life of Christ and let Him live His pascal mystery in us. 

This is why we now turn our gaze away from ourselves and our own ascesis, and towards this great mystery we are about to celebrate. Both are necessary. If we never experience our own weakness, we easily slip into the illusion that we can manage on our own, and the mystery loses its power – not in itself, but for us, because we no longer seek strength there.

The contemplation of the Easter Mystery, the self-giving love of Christ, awakens in us an echo of the call of Ash Wednesday: «Repent and believe in the gospel!» «Turn your gaze away from yourself and your own progress or backsliding, turn to me, see how much I love you, how far I am willing to go in my love for you – you who are dust, and shall return to dust. Come to me, follow me, and I will give you my life as a wellspring within you – then, from the dust you shall rise, as I am risen.»