The importance of three days

cranachaltarpieceI was thinking I might note how we've seen relatively few examples of that mainstream media Holy Week tradition of showcasing stories designed to question the work of Christ. But it's only Thursday. Instead let's look at this story from MSNBC about Iran releasing British hostages:

LONDON -- Iran on Wednesday freed the 15 detained British sailors and marines in what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called an Easter gift to the British people. Prime Minister Tony Blair said he bore "no ill will" toward the Iranian people.

An Easter gift! I wonder if Ahmadinejad knows that Britons aren't religious anymore. (I kid.) Let's look at precisely what Ahmadinejad said, also in the story:

Ahmadinejad said he had pardoned the sailors as a gift to the British people and to mark the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammed and Easter.

"On the occasion of the birthday of the great prophet (Muhammad) ... and for the occasion of the passing of Christ, I say the Islamic Republic government and the Iranian people -- with all powers and legal right to put the soldiers on trial -- forgave those 15," he said, referring to the Muslim prophet's birthday last Saturday and Easter, next Sunday.

Okay, MSNBC, Easter is Sunday. That is true. In both East and West this year, no less. But the passing of Christ? That's not what Easter commemorates. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Christ. The passing of Christ? We mark that on Good Friday.

Rosie O'Donnell may trust Ahmadinejad more than the British or U.S. governments. And that's scary. But what does it say that we have to trust Ahmadinejad more than mainstream media to get the liturgical calendar right?

Also, because this is one of my favorite pieces of art (along with this one, oddly enough), I'll mention that the crucifixion altarpiece pictured was done by Lucas Cranach the Elder and completed by his son Lucas in 1555. Christ is pictured both trampling on death and Satan, and crucified with blood flowing directly from his wounds to John the Baptist, Cranach himself and Martin Luther.

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