God's power is revealed in love, pope says at Mass in Athens

ATHENS, Greece (CNS) -- God the Almighty almost always chooses the least mighty people and the most desolate places to reveal the power of his love, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass Dec. 5 in Athens' Megaron concert hall, the pope touched on a theme he had explored in depth with Catholic leaders the day before: the blessing and spiritual advantage of being a small community without power and without pretenses.

Catholics make up less than 2% of the population of Greece; more than 90% of the country's residents belong to the Orthodox Church.

Noting how the day's Gospel says the word of God came to John the Baptist "in the desert," Pope Francis said, "There is no place that God will not visit."

"Today we rejoice to see him choose the desert, to see him reach out with love to our littleness and to refresh our arid spirits," he said. "Dear friends, do not fear littleness, since it is not about being small and few in number, but about being open to God and to others."

The late-afternoon Mass was the pope's last public event in Greece. After Mass he was to host a private visit by Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, and the next morning he was scheduled to visit a Catholic school before returning to Rome, concluding a five-day trip that began in Cyprus.