A second chance on life: Talking about the Resurrection
St. Maria Goretti students Jason Marinelli, left, Tess Skehan, Will Snyder, Laura Winalski and Megan Rock are in a religion class taught by Theresa Doub. (Ric Dugan / / March 26, 2013)
Easter can be uplifting. Coming in early spring, it coincides with flowers blooming, birds nesting and animals coming out of hibernation - all signs of renewed life.
For Christians, Easter is not simply inspiring. It is the high point of the year — the annual commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus, when he showed sin and death had no power over him, and that by believing in his message, believers also could be saved from sin and death.
Students in Theresa Doub's religion class at St. Maria Goretti High School, a Catholic high school, spoke recently about the Resurrection and what it means for believers and nonbelievers.
The biblical story
In the Bible, Jesus is executed by crucifixion on the day before the Jewish Sabbath. He is accused of blasphemy by Jewish leaders, then convicted of sedition by Roman authorities.
The Resurrection takes place on the day after the Sabbath. There are several different accounts of the Resurrection in the Bible and they don't all agree. In the Gospel of Mark, three women approach Jesus' tomb at sunrise. In Matthew, two women go to the tomb and, in John, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb alone. In Luke's gospel, two men — neither of them Jesus — greet the women at the tomb. In Mark, there's only one man, who indicates he's not Jesus. In John, there are two angels and Jesus, who Mary doesn't recognize.
Goretti senior Laura Winalski said discrepancies in the Resurrection story are not significant.
"As Catholics, we don't interpret the Bible as literal — that everything in it actually happened. We're very figurative," she said. "We understand that there are deeper meanings and we look for those. We take the gist of it and not the details."
Junior Patrick Jones indicated that biblical scholarship explains some of the differences between one gospel writer and another.
"Each Evangelist has their own story, and their own source. And by word of mouth, like the telephone game, details can get lost or told in different ways," he said.
"And they were targeting different groups of people," added sophomore Will Snyder. "One of them (Matthew) was focused on telling the story to Jews. (Mark) was focused on spreading the word to Gentiles."
Sophomore Megan Rock the four gospels agree on the main message of Jesus' ministry.
"The most important thing is that he rose from the dead to save us from our sins. That's in all of them," she said.
Resurrection in today's culture
New life and second chances are common themes in books and movies. Laura pointed to one example: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." In the movie, based on a book by C.S. Lewis, a powerful, benevolent lion named Aslan saves four English children — two brothers and two sisters — who find themselves trapped in a magical land.
"A lot of people may not know C.S. Lewis was very religious. Aslan represents Christ. He goes through horrific scourging, just like Jesus did. They mortify him. They shave off all his fur," she said. "The two sisters, they go (to Aslan's grave) — that's like the women who go to the tomb of Jesus. And he rises again and there's a big battle, symbolic of the end of time. And ultimately good overcomes evil and they live happily ever after."
Stories like this bring the idea of new life to nonbelievers. Everyone, Megan said, can benefit from a second chance.
"You can start over with your life. You can be forgiven for everything you've done," she said. "It lifts a weight off your shoulders. You can take your sins and lay them down at his feet. You can say to God, 'Help me.'"