Good evening! Hello brothers and sisters! I greet with affection all the bishops, pastors, responsible ! Good evening beloved and dear Pope Francesco/Francis! Thank you for having conceived this event! Thank you for inviting us to this vigil of Pentecost. Thank you for having us as well: evangelicals and Pentecostals on this 50th anniversary of the birth of the charismatic movement that coincides with the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. And at last, thank you because the mere fact of having called us here at Circo Massimo , the first site of Christian martyrdom , stresses the relationship that you see between our movements, their membership-despite the diversity-to the same current/source of grace “,” the root and ecumenical vocation “of the entire Charismatic and Pentecostal movement.
I am here “infected” by a dream. I speak of the dream imagined before the Foundation of the world; the dream that captured – I am sure – even your heart. That of God who is a relationship, that of God who is “loving communion” (koinonia) in its deepest essence. That of a God , who is love before loving! Because he lives – inside before outside- in an incessant movement of love. Paraphrasing the beginning of the Gospel of John, we could say: in the beginning it was the communion!
The Gospel of desire
At this point, I would speak about this Gospel of desire! God wanted every time to extend his interior movement of love, this communion to his creatures. He wanted to migrate into the human heart and made it his house in the fullness of time! And he came! He visited us in Christ. He visited us personally. He blew upon us! “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rm5:5). And it was Pentecost! The irruption of God in our hearts. Love! Desire for love! In dwelling as for a new incarnation, desire for intimate and profound communion, passion of unity, intimacy, love! So it is written: “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him”, and: “do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1Cor6:17.19). Because he wanted a temple/ house/inhabitance of flesh instead walls of stone. Because he wanted to experience us from within each of us!
The visitation of God
On Pentecost, the inner life of God, has visited us. It finally came/broke in that day through our stabbed hearts. And Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your body, and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and I will make sure that you will walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them practice. ” (Ez36:26-27). He kicked off the “internal dialogue” with each of us, made us capable “from inside” to a fraternal embrace between us. Now that life is engaged. An essential part of the very nature of God is conveyed to us. Now, watered by the river of the spirit , we can fall more and more in love with the Lord, and grow in love for the brethren more and more every day. This revelation leads to revolution! Now, rooted and grounded in the communion with God, we can grow together in unity and communion with God’s children.
The vocation of the Pentecostal movement
So I continue to be convinced that the movement of the spirit, known as Pentecost, the Pentecostal or charismatic movement, has in its genetics – for the shared experience of the spirit-not only the call to renewal, upon awakening, to “life”, but has also in itself, in its mandate, the vocation to build unity among God’s children. And it shall not finish to give all its contribution to God’s purpose for having stirred up to that, appropriating its (the movement ) whole vocation, until it becomes also a movement of reconciliation for the Lord.
Pentecost is life and peace
Because Pentecost is life and peace! Not only life. Peace! I am thinking of the Pentecost and of the Acts! Spirit and life for the person. Spirit and peace for relations. I think of the Valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Spirit and life to the resurrection. Immediately after the reconciliation. Or at the Pentecost of Caesarea. The spirit descends on Cornelius, the wall of division falls between Gentiles and Israel. Life and peace. Resurrection and reconciliation. A combination that is always accompanied with the action of the Lord.
A personal Pentecost
I had this revelation on my personal Pentecost. During a Cenacle of prayer in the living room. One winter evening forty years ago! We were looking for the presence of God. We were invaded by rivers of joy and great harmony. Fresh outpouring of life, a deeper revelation of the embrace of God for all his children. Regardless of geography, race , confession or liturgy. That ‘ deposit ‘ grew in me for several years. Until the real turning point upon the invitation of Matthew to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the charismatic movement. The Lord surprised us. He opened a door in vision and encouraged us to enter. Once in Bari we had a word: “Tomorrow you will wash the feet of a charismatic”. We obeyed and there was the washing of the feet of Friar Antonio. The process had started. I never imagined then, what the Lord would do in later years. Glorious springs but also sudden frosty ones. Dissent and resistance on both sides. But in the autumn of that year, in Terlizzi the Lord had prepared us. With a vision: “a path that ran, as no man’s land, between two fields separated by barbed wire. A man was advancing along the path and hurt himself here and there … at times his clothes, but at others his flesh was strapped . He fell, then got up again, then continued. Down the trail a cross. After the cross only one field and no more barbed wire. ”
In the spring of ‘ 96 at the gathering of the renewal in Rimini … again the cross. After asking for forgiveness for the persecution of the Pentecostal charismatic movement by the Italian leaders, back in my room, a voice. It was the Lord behind my back . Asking me to give him my arms. He stretched them in the shape of a cross. Asked me for my feet and held them so, for a short and infinite time… And I cried, I cried, I cried … I realized then that all vocations of the Lord go through the verification of the cross. This will be followed by a fruitful season. The CCI in Italy and CRECES in Buenos Aires. Several meetings and relationships, so many contacts. Until the 2006 meeting between Catholics and evangelicals, and the meeting with Cardinal Bergoglio, at Luna Park in Buenos Aires. Prepared by the fruitful relationship of communion and prayer between the Cardinal and our Pentecostal pastors. Some of them are with us tonight: Himitian, Mraida, Saracco. Another important prayer meeting between Catholics and Pentecostals will follow in 2007 in India with father Cantalamessa, prepared by Bishop Komanapalli and the Catholic Archbishop of Hyderabad. In 2013, to our great joy and surprise, the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope.
A new season
With the election of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, a new season has clearly opened. In particular with regard to the relationship with us. The unprecedented development of relationships with many pastors, the visit to the community of Caserta with the request for forgiveness to the Italian Pentecostal. The encouragement to drive initiatives, in the United States and elsewhere, between Catholics and Pentecostals. Up to this amazing day. Dozens of pastors are present here tonight, as evidence of the fruitfulness of the road traveled in just a few years. For me, who ‘ve been walking for forty years in the Pentecostal experience, I think it is legitimate to speak of a real Kairos of God!
If this is true, we are certainly encouraged. But we’re together challenged to get even better in the historic vocation of our spirituality. To contribute to the awakening and the unity. It seems to me that the method suggested by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians is for us. Pursuing the truth in love, we start from the Foundation of the unity of the spirit, to walk with confidence in the unity of faith, towards a full realization, also visible, of the unity of the body of Christ. Jesus is the Lord!