Pope Francis this week called on various Christian groups to work together to build a stronger bond of friendship and love.
“I urge you to continue to walk together, sharing life and brotherly love,” said the pope in a video message to a gathering of members of the John 17 Movement in the United States.
The pontiff said the testimony the group shares every time they met with the pope “gives me hope and gives me joy.”
The John 17 Movement was started in 2013 by Pentecostal pastor Joe Tosini who felt the urge to pray for then newly-elected Pope Francis.
The Movement takes its name from St. John’s Gospel, chapter 17, where Jesus prays, “That they may be one.”
The pope’s message on Wednesday, June 9, was addressed to members of the movement who were holding a retreat on the theme “Relational Reconciliation, a New Way to Christian Reconciliation.”
“Whether you love or not, the love that became flesh, the love that gave life for us, that is the way,” he said in the video.
“Very often we confuse love with a kind of platonic, idealistic philosophy. Love is concrete, love gives its life for others, as Jesus gave it for us. Perhaps because love is not taught, it is lived, and you are teaching us by living it,” added Pope Francis.
He said the John 17 Movement is about people who, while having a cappuccino, dinner or an ice cream around the table, discover they are brothers.
“Even if there is no table, even if there is no cappuccino, even if there is no ice cream, even if there is no coffee, because there is poverty and there is way, we are still brothers, and we must say this to each other … we are children of the one same Father,” he said.
Pope Francis said “love has no need for profound theological knowledge, which is however necessary.”
“Love is an encounter of life, first with the Lord Jesus, with the person of Jesus, and from there on, from that encounter of love, friendship, brotherhood and the certainty of being children of the same Father are born,” he said.