Original sin disfigured and disordered the divine image in the human person and led God to speak those sad words that we hear on Ash Wednesday: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
But those words point us to the promise of hope — that humanity will rise from dust to achieve the divine destiny that God intended.
Dust is not our destiny and death is not the final destination of our lives. The journey we begin on Ash Wednesday ends on Easter Sunday. The dust of death gives way to the light that streams from Jesus’ empty tomb.
That is why Lent is a season of hope. Because God sent his only Son, who is the true image of God in human likeness.
Jesus restored the divine image damaged by sin, through his obedient suffering and death on the cross.
So in Jesus, who lived a perfect human life, we see the beautiful truth of our lives and the true vocation that each of us has. Jesus shows us “who we are.” He shows us that we are children of God, born of the love of the Father. We are born to love and to be loved. And we do that by loving as Jesus loved.
The direction and purpose of our lives is to become more and more like Jesus, through the grace of God and our desire for holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts is beautifully: “The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son” (CCC, n. 1877).