Father Hanneman: Easter challenges us to receive the gift of God’s love

Two angels greet the women as they arrive at the entrance of the tomb. They ask, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

What a strange and perplexing thing to say to these poor, terrified and well-intentioned women. But this is the question of this Easter.

The response: “He is not here.” Translation: “He is alive! He has been raised up! It’s not over. It’s only begun. You won’t find him here. Go into the streets and look for him. Go to the prisons and soup kitchens. Go to the villages and cities. Go home to your families. He is there among your spouse and children, your coworkers and friends, your classmates and teammates. The best part of the story is ahead of you.”

The idea of resurrection may seem difficult to understand. In the world of creation, we’re given some good analogies – the caterpillar and the butterfly, the seed and the plant, the bud and the rose. Yet, Easter is more than the scent of lilies and the rolling of eggs or the general idea of newness.

In fact, it’s far more than just remembering that the body of Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s about an invitation in this moment for each of us – to pass from captivity to freedom, from death to life, from illusion to what really matters most.

Easter challenges us to see the gift of life right here: before our very eyes! The love of God in Jesus Christ is healing us and eagerly encouraging the very best in us. It’s not a matter of what we need to do or accomplish. Rather, it’s opening ourselves to receive the mind-blowing gift of God’s unconditional love and letting a new spirit of energy, love and hope emerge in every facet of our lives.

Easter pushes us out of the tombs of self-absorption and challenges us to discover fulfillment in living a life centered beyond ourselves. Easter throws us out of the lifeless cemeteries of loneliness and isolation and thrusts us into the loving embrace of Christ in our family, church and community.

Easter dares us to look around the rocks we stumble over and find paths of peace and forgiveness. Jesus is alive – in our hearts, in our faith community, in our world.

Father Dennis Hanneman is a retired priest of the archdiocese. Contact him at

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