On Sunday December 5, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Megaron Concert Hall, where he urged the faithful to "convert" this Advent.
For his last public Mass of his trip – the second after the one celebrated on December 3 at the Nicosia Stadium in Cyprus – Pope Francis was welcomed by some 2,000 Catholics of the Latin, Byzantine and Armenian rites. About 900 were present in the prestigious concert hall with the great organ on stage and a thousand followed the event from another room.
In his homily, the head of the Catholic Church wanted to enlighten the faithful on the meaning of conversion, as Christians have entered the Advent season and are moving towards Christmas. “Your beautiful language, Greek, can help us,” he said, explaining the Greek etymology of the verb “to convert” – metanein.
“It is composed of the preposition meta, which means beyond, and the verb “noéin.” which means to think, he explained. Therefore, “to convert is to think beyond, to go beyond our usual way of thinking, beyond our usual mental patterns,” the pontiff summarized. Behind these patterns are “the rigidity and fear that paralyze” or “the temptation of saying ‘we’ve always done it this way.’”
For the Bishop of Rome, conversion means being able to ignore that which destroys hope and “refusing to believe that we are destined to sink into the quicksand of mediocrity.”
The Pope also warned against a false conception of conversion that would only be the fruit of a personal and moral effort. “This is precisely the problem,” he insisted, reminding us that it is to the beyond that we must turn and ask for the strength to convert. He then promised: “Everything changes if we leave Him the place.”
“I will not leave you!”
At the end of the celebration, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude for the welcome received in the country on the eve of his departure. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I will leave Greece, but I will not leave you! I will take you with me in my memory and in my prayer.”
For his last evening in Athens, the pontiff is scheduled to meet with Archbishop of Athens Hieronymus II at the Nunciature in private. The head of the Orthodox Church in the country had received him at his residence the day before.
On December 6, before flying back to Rome, the pontiff will meet with young Greek Catholics and give a final speech.