The Sunday readings today can be found in their entirety on the USCCB website. Take a few minutes to read them if you have not already.
In the first reading, as the Israelites enter at last into an agricultural area where they are able to eat regular produce rather than what they they were given in gleanings in the barren desert, the Lord says "Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you." In Egypt they had been slaves; now they are no longer a slave people, but an independent people group moving from being nomads to settling down in a more fertile environment.
In the second reading, in which Paul is writing about forgiveness, he states that the Lord does not count our trespasses against us, and that he has entrusted to the apostles the message of reconciliation through Christ. Christ's message of forgiveness helps us to deal with the shame of sin, the slavery of sin, so we can put our mistakes in the past and work toward changing our lives today to be more in tune with God and one another. Forgiveness fosters a more fertile environment in our souls and in our relationships.
In the Gospel, which has two parts, the first Jesus welcomes and eats with sinners. Second, the famous story of the Prodigal Son who is forgiven completely by his father after living a life of dissipation. Both speak of eating with sinners, not just eating with them, but feasting with them. This is not the awkward dinner table when a partying uncle comes home and makes references to a life that makes Grandma shudder, and everyone is silent and cold. The Prodigal son's brother almost made it that kind of dinner, but dad headed off that disaster before the dinner bell rang. This is the family feast when the partying uncle comes home grateful for the stability of his family roots, and everyone is glad to see him and they talk about family vacations when they were kids and you know that even though siblings have different life stories we are all in this together.
Do you see a connection between the readings? There are many I am sure, but the connection that I see between the three readings is this: God is more than ready to take away our shame.
This is a perfect set of readings for this season of Lent, when we are particularly focusing on working on overcoming our shortcomings and sins, taking our sins to the Lord in personal and formal Confession/Reconciliation. It is of great comfort to know that the Lord is so ready to receive us back. The question we can ask ourselves is whether we are ready to receive others back so graciously? Nothing is more enjoyable, nothing more takes away the shames of life than "killing the fatted calf" (the golden calf of our inappropriate judgments of others) and sitting down to eat and talk to people about life and how good God is in the land of his promise of never-ending love for the human family.
Peace and Love,