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Love Your Enemies / Our Lady’s Practice of Faith as a Model for Our Own Faith

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 1 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

  1. Homily on Love Your Enemies
  2. Homily on Our Lady’s Practice of Faith as a Model for Our Own Faith

1.  Love Your Enemies

The Lord be with you.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard the commandment: You shall love your countryman but hate your enemy. My command to you is: love your enemies; pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are sons of your heavenly Father. For his sun rises on the bad and the good, he rains on the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? Do not tax collectors do as much? And if you greet your brothers only, what is so praiseworthy about that? Do not pagans do as much? In a word you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Homily: The Essence of Christianity: Loving the Unlovable

What we have just read is part of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Through three chapters, the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew’s Gospel our Lord compares the Old Testament morality with the New. He goes to the commandments, “You have heard it was said, but I tell you…., you’ve heard it was said, but I tell you….” Whatever else is true about Christianity it is that the moral demands of the followers of Christ are much harder. They require much more of us than was ever required of the people in the Old Law. But if there is one commandment that Christ raised to super human heights, it was the commandment of loving our neighbour.

In the Old Testament the Jews were told to love their neighbour. What the neighbour meant one of their own fellow Israelites. What the neighbour meant someone who was related to you by kinship of blood, or the neighbour is one who was close to you; intimate with you. But Christ’s teaching is super humanly higher.

We never give a thought; pardon me, second thought to the fact that in all the languages of the world including English, we speak of some people as being loveable and other people being unlovable. Obviously, loveable people are those we can love. Unlovable people are those who we cannot love. This in one sentence is the heart of Christian morality. We are told to love unlovable people. Say that again. We are told by Christ to love unlovable people.

Who are unlovable people? Oh, that’s easy: those who don’t love us, those who are not kind to us, thoughtful of us. Who are unlovable people? Those who offend us. Those who speak unkindly to us and about us. Who are the unlovable people? All those people who except for God becoming man and dying on the cross and meriting for us the grace to do the humanly impossible, we could not love. They are the unlovable people. But that in one declarative sentence is the essence of Christianity – loving the unlovable.

Orthodoxy without Charity is Not Christianity

We are living in the most convulsive age in human history. We are living in an age, our century, where there have been more martyrs for Christ than all the nineteen hundred years from Calvary put together. Yet, as deeply and as terrifyingly as our Faith is being challenged let’s make sure we know what Christianity really is. Of course we must believe. We must be orthodox believers. We must believe that Christ is the living God who became Man. We must believe that His mother is the Mother of God. We must believe that Jesus Christ is on earth in the Holy Eucharist. We must believe how the Bishop of Rome is the Vicar of Christ.

We call that orthodoxy. But I want to be very plain, orthodoxy is not enough. One of my favorite phrases is “orthodoxy without charity is not Christianity”.

In other words, we must have, dear God, a strong, dare I say it, heroic faith in our day. When bishops are openly declaring, “I, I am the Vicar of Christ”, we’d better have a strong faith. But faith, otherwise known as orthodoxy is not enough. It must be faith joined with selfless charity. And that my friends, that is what will convert, and I hope you agree with me, a paganized America.

Once a Christian nation, millions have lost their faith in Jesus Christ. But if we’re going to retrieve these lost Christians, some sadly, members of our own family, people who are nearest and dearest to us, we must not only believe strongly, we must love selflessly, and of the very ones who don’t love us. It is then faith combined with Christ-like charity that will convert. And how our country needs re-conversion beginning with the two capitals of paganism in America. You may be surprised. They are Chicago and Detroit.

Lord Jesus, make us channels of your grace to others. Deepen our faith in you as our God; our trust in you as a source of all the strength we need in today’s unbelieving world. But above all, dear Jesus, give us something of your selfless love so that like you, we too, may be willing to lay down our lives for those who do not love us, because in loving them we will be communicating grace from you through us to them, because dear Jesus, only faith and love can convert a sinful world. Jesus, we love you. Out of love for you we want to love those who do not love us, because in loving them we are showing how deeply we love you who died on Calvary out of love for us. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

2.  Our Lady’s Practice of Faith as a Model for Our Own Faith

General Intercessions

Let us pray for the Holy Father that God may give him the strength to proclaim the crucified Christ to a self-loving world.

Let us pray to the Lord.

For all bishops in the Catholic Church that they will be faithful servants of the Vicar of Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord.

For all priests and religious that we may be faithful to our commitment to Jesus Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord.

For all families that they may be modeled on the Holy Family, loving one another.

Let us pray to the Lord.

For all the people of the city of Detroit that they may rediscover Jesus Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord.

For our own personal intentions.

Let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, grant that what we ask for in faith we may obtain through the intercession of your Mother, the Mother of God, and our Mother. This we ask through Christ, our Lord.


For about eight years now, I’ve always offered the Mass on the First Saturday of each month for the Marian Catechists, as I did today.

We might wonder why, and this is over the centuries, the Church has commemorated Our Lady in a very special way on every Saturday of the year. Oh why? As one of the approved revelations at Fatima, Catholics are encouraged to make the First Saturday of each month specially dedicated to Our Lady. It all goes back to the First Saturday of the first Holy Week, where as the Fathers of the Church tell us, the only one amongst Christ’s followers who remained absolutely faithful in believing in her Divine Son was His Mother. She was absolutely sure that the torn, bleeding body of Jesus expiring on Calvary would rise glorious from the grave.

What I’d like to do with you is trace Our Lady’s practice of faith as a model for our own loyalty to the Faith in today’s, what a safe word, unbelieving world.

The Church tells us that Mary conceived her Son by faith in her heart before she conceived Him in her body at Christ’s conception. Unless she had believed that the Messiah to come would be the living God to be conceived of the Virgin – all of this had been foretold in the Old Testament. And the Messiah would be of the family of David. And the Messiah would institute a Kingdom that would begin in time but continue into eternity. All of this Mary believed before she conceived Jesus at Nazareth. And the Church tells us, because she believed that is why she was chosen to become the Mother of the Most High.

Mary Began Her Mediation of Grace at the Visitation – John the Baptist Born Without Sin

Mary’s faith became evident shortly after she conceived Jesus when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth told Mary, overwhelmed with surprise, “How is it that the Mother of my Lord should visit me?” Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Mary did not know from the moment she conceived Jesus that the Child in her womb was her God. Mary believed because Elizabeth, in effect, told her as much. The moment Mary greeted Elizabeth, what happened? The grace from Jesus in Mary’s womb penetrated through Elizabeth to John in her womb. And John leaped for joy.

The Church teaches only one human person was conceived without sin, the Mother of God. But one other human person was born without sin, John the Baptist. Mary began her mediation of grace at The Visitation. Mary spoke and the child in Elizabeth’s womb was sanctified.

Mary professed her faith in the Magnificat and what faith that was. Mary had no doubt she was extraordinarily gifted by God. She knew God had done great things for her and holy was His name. But she believed, how we need this faith; Mary believed that everything she possessed was a gift from God. And Mary never took credit for herself; for the gifts that belonged to God.

Marian Faith: Love and Pain are Inseparable and Indispensable to Each Other

In Bethlehem Mary believed that the Child she was about to give birth to, that Joseph, Mary, and the unborn Child did not have a place even to stay – most of the human race goes to bed hungry every night. Hear it. Hundreds of millions of people in the world are homeless. Let me repeat. Hundreds of millions of people in the world are homeless – Mary believed that the Child she gave birth to in the stable in Bethlehem Whom she wrapped – oh, how poetic can you be, swaddling clothes – thanks for the poetry. The inspired Greek says Mary wrapped Him in rags. Spelled r-a-g-s. And laid Him in the manger. The Greek says for manger – trough. Spelled t-r-o-u-g-h. Yet Mary believed that this speechless Child was the Word of God, by Whom the world came into existence. She believed that this Child who no sooner was He born had to be fed, as the Fathers of the Church tell us, at the breast of his mother; she believed this Child was her God.

Forty days later at “The Presentation” when Simeon speaking to Mary told her, “This Child of yours is to be the cause of the rise and fall of many and a sword will pierce your soul.” Mary had no illusions. To be the Mother of the Messiah meant to be the Mother of the suffering Jesus Christ. And I don’t believe there is on earth a greater suffering than the suffering of a mother, deep down in her heart, over the pain and suffering of her child.

How what Mary is meant to teach us; to believe, and what faith this takes – give the Trinity any day as a mystery of Faith – compared with believing that God is beneath, below, within, every pain we suffer. Mary believed that pain and love are not only not separable, they’re indispensable, one to the other. Mary knew by faith if you love Jesus Christ, you don’t just endure or resign yourself to suffering. Hear it. You accept pain. Hear it again. You love suffering. Honest to God, you love suffering, not because anyone loves pain; that’s what pain means, that which we don’t like.

That we can love suffering what you can experience of pain provided, what a proviso, provided we believe that behind and within that suffering is a loving God giving us – oh, how many suffering souls I’ve told this to in my forty-five years in the Priesthood. Like the young teenage girl, suffering, not able to speak, except in a broken chatter. She wrote me a letter. I’m going to save this letter. Call it a scroll. Her mind is perfectly alert. I told her, “Our Lord loves you very much. Suffering from muscular dystrophy, he loves you very much. Otherwise he wouldn’t be giving you this wonderful privilege of offering so much to him out of love.

But you must have the Faith, deep Faith. Dare I say it; Marian faith. The deepest faith of any human being in the history of the human race was the faith of Mary; Mary’s faith when Herod wanted to kill her Son, so Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt; faith to believe that many people don’t want God. Hear it, many people don’t want God, they don’t want to obey God. There are people who hate God. And when God became man, God had to flee for the human life which he assumed because of the hatred of a proud monarch.

All the faith it takes for us Americans to believe mysteriously that God was behind our presidential elections last fall takes faith. Agreed? Faith to believe. And the widespread legalization of murder; how dare our country, how dare it, ever condemn any other criminal, how dare it, when it legalizes the murder of the unborn children. How the faith we need, like Mary, to see God and allowing the cause of the evil of our times, God must have a purpose. We don’t see with our bodily eyes, but we believe it with the minds of our souls enlightened by faith; the faith of Mary when she found her lost Son and then Jesus told her, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” I believe that one of the hardest trials of our faith is to lose or not experience that consoling presence of God which strengthens us in serving Him.

But it was especially through the Passion of her Divine Son that Mary’s faith was tested. We are told that Mary during Christ’s Way of the Cross made sure, because of the large crowd following Jesus on the way to Calvary, she stood at a corner where she could if not greet Him physically, at least see Him visibly.

And then the faith of Mary on Calvary; Mary we are told was covered with the blood of her Son dripping from the Cross. The blood, except for her, He wouldn’t of had. Christ died on the Cross; placed as we believe in Mary’s arms; the same body to which she gave birth to in Bethlehem. Mary’s faith is to be the inspiration of our faith.

Jesus First Appeared After His Resurrection to His Mother on Easter Sunday Morning

In that long Holy Saturday with Jesus in the grave; but Mary absolutely sure He would rise as he foretold on Easter Sunday. And over the years in giving the Spiritual Exercises I never tire repeating what Ignatius tells us to tell others; “and on Easter Sunday though the gospels do not record it”, but says Ignatius, “they don’t have to, it’s too obvious; Jesus first appeared after His Resurrection to His Mother on Easter Sunday morning.”

Mary’s faith is to be the inspiration of our faith. We may say the experience that she went through is the perfect revealed model of the experience of our own lives. After over three thousand years of waiting for the Messiah, His own chosen people when the Messiah came, what did they do? They shouted, “Crucify Him!” And they added, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Mary’s Faith in God’s Justice

There’s one more mystery of faith that Mary teaches us. I’ve saved this for the last. We have no reason to doubt that Mary was there when the crowd shouted “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” But Mary knew, how well she knew, that the God who became man and whom she conceived at Nazareth and gave birth to at Bethlehem and was about to die in Jerusalem, she believed this God is not only a loving God, not only a merciful God, hear it, hear it, this God is also a just God. God is not mocked. When those frenzied Israelites shouted, “His blood be on us and on our children”, they didn’t realize it; one generation later, as I never tire of telling my classes and the audiences I speak to, by the year 70 A.D., the Romans besieged Jerusalem. For months the Jews held out. Finally, they broke through the walls of Jerusalem. And as the historian, Josephus tells us; they cut down all the trees in all the forests around Jerusalem. And Josephus’ figure is, and they crucified 90,000 Jews and the verb is, crucified.

We need this faith; faith in God’s love, but also faith in God’s justice. You don’t mock the laws of God by destroying the family as is being done carefully, shrewdly, diabolically in our country. You don’t legalize the murder of innocent unborn children. You don’t popularize having one city after another legalize homosexuality. You don’t forbid prayer in public schools. You don’t deprive husbands and fathers of a just wage, so that now over 50 percent of the laboring force in America is women. You don’t use the media from morning till night to mesmerize millions in believing in a dream world that does not exist; and not paying for it. I’m no Jeremiah, no Isaiah, but I say this with complete security; the days of America are numbered.

America is in a Civil War

A publication I read last night; most people don’t know it, but America is in civil war. A war between two philosophies of life; one that stills believes in God and one believes that man is his own god. We believe God is just. And that is why we pray; pray for the conversion – how it pains me to say this, because I can say it for members of my own family – for the conversion of those who are so dear to us that our nation as we believe, brought into being because we believe in the God in Whom we still say, “In God we trust”.

How this nation of ours will recover it’s faith in following the Mother of Jesus as she stood on Calvary. We too, loving during the Passion of the Mystical Christ in the world today, believe on the one hand, that those who remain faithful to Jesus Christ will be rewarded, and those who reject Christ will be punished.

Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of God…


Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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