Many Christians tend to glorify Jesus' death, as if somehow Jesus suffered in ways no one else does. Jesus' death does not distinguish him from the rest of humanity so much as it unites us with him. If we begin to argue that Jesus' death was somehow unique, we embarrass ourselves.
As Jesus hung upon a Roman cross, he forgave one of those with him and promised him a place in paradise. This challenges our tendency to think of terrorists as pure evil, unrepentant and undeserving of good will.
A statue of Jesus encased in a glass casket carried by men dressed as pall bearers march somberly ahead of a large group of mourning women holding candles; praying and singing dirges in Italian through the winding streets. This is Good Friday in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Since Muslims and Christians often find common ground in Jesus' teachings, I believe that a holy period focused on Jesus provides opportunities to reinforce the commonalities between our faiths. Georgetown University showed me the enormous potential for interfaith dialogue during Lent.
The question of whether we see the world through the eyes of Javert or Valjean amounts to our understanding of justice. For Javert, justice is retribution in the interest of maintaining an abstract order; for Valjean, justice is solidarity in the interest of personal love.
The question lingers unanswered through time, waiting for us: Is God really OK with something like this? Couldn't God's relinquishment of Jesus be tantamount to moral negligence? Couldn't there be a neater, more peaceful solution?
What intrigues me about the ascension of Christ is not only what it tells me about the ancient world and its "scientific" knowledge of the universe, but also what it tells me about many Christians today.
The story of Jesus is vastly more beautiful without the baggage of killing and bloodshed. It is time for a new reading of the redemption story. It is time the church allow the old story of Jesus to die.
It is Mark's shattered and shattering Gospel that demands close Christian attention, before we move up and away from it to the joyous epiphany of Sunday morning. Good Friday Christianity puts the agony in the ecstasy, insisting that there is no other way.
In the weeks before Easter, during the traditional season of Lent, Christians fix their hearts on the death of Jesus Christ. They reflect upon what he endured because they believe that it was redemptive.
In Iceland, for decades, the entire "Hymns of the Passion" by Hallgrimur Petursson has been broadcast annually by the State Broadcasting Service. We were shocked by the many blatantly anti-Semitic references that pervade Petursson's Hymns.
Pope Benedict is putting his own "personal stamp" on the matter of the death of Jesus. Anyone who thinks that Joseph Ratzinger personally "blames the Jews" will have to grapple with these clear comments.