Lent does not start out with the story of the Fall. Nowhere in the next forty days will we hear that account. Instead, we're plunged into the middle of the story: we don't hear of what was but what is, of the cycle of sin/repentance/restoration/sin set into motion by the Fall. God has promised to break the cycle but it hasn't happened yet; Israel is, as usual, in a desperate situation. Fast – mourn – repent and turn back to God. Again. Perhaps He will relent. Again.
Joel sounds an urgent call to repentance; so too does Paul, as we are thrown into a new part of the story. The cycle is broken; God has heard us. Do you not know what He has done for us? Be reconciled to Him! Now is the acceptable time! Now. Not once we have time – this is the time.
We will have time later to slow down, to let Lent sink into us, to seek to comprehend the mystery. But this is not that time: this is a time for action. Christ calls us to prayer, to fasting, to charity towards our neighbors – today especially, answer that call. We will never be more clearly marked by our sins and our salvation than we are today, with ashes in the sign of the Cross. We will never stand so obviously as ambassadors for Christ, God appealing through us to a world that does not know Him. Now is the time – let us take advantage of it.