During one of the many Masses I celebrated at Pelican Bay Maximum security State Prison I preached about the baptism of Jesus when Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan river and the heavens opened and God, His Daddy, declared “this is my beloved Son with whom I take great delight.” I told the inmates that in like manner God, their Daddy, took great delight in them and was well pleased with them. At the end of the Mass one of young man comes up to me and says: “I hated everything you said today because it’s all a lie, no one has ever been pleased with me or taken delight with me, I have always been nothing but a big disappointment to everyone, most especially my father. It’s all a lie and I hated it all today.” It’s not a wonder this young man ended up in a gang and on drugs and killing people and now found himself incarcerated for life; he never had anyone bless him as God The Father blessed Jesus during His baptism telling Him how wonderful and marvelous and delightful and good Jesus was.
To bless someone is to make them feel delightful by saying “good things people need to hear” as the Bible instructs us; telling people things that uplift them and perk them up and revive and animate their weary and worn spirits. The word blessing comes from the Latin “benedicere” which means “good-words” so that in order to bless I need to say the “good words” people need to hear not words that kill and injure and bring down. To curse is to speak bad words to others, “mal-dicere” is the word for cursing in Latin meaning evil speak. Stop the evil speak and begin the blessing speak. Speak blessing over those who surround you through your gestures and smile and invite and warmth. Remember whatever you say cannot be taken back so think very hard before you open your mouth because once you say something you can’t ever take it back. It’s best to say nothing than say something mean or ugly, “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”
I often wonder what would have happened to that young man had he experienced blessing in his life? Would he end up in a notorious maximum security state prison for life? I looked at him and I said: “I am pleased with you, I am proud of you, you are wonderful. You are here at Mass with me God loves you, I told him. He looks at me and says: “and how do you know that God loves me?” At that I looked right at him and said: “I know God loves you because I love you.” He began to cry.
I am determined everyday to always bless and never curse and so I want to bless you today letting you know, as I let that young man at Pelican Bay State Prison know, that you are a delight, you are wonderful and marvelous, you are beautiful, “you are all that and a bag of chips” because of the ALL THAT, God who is in you, who made you and that God is pleased with you. And you know that I know that God is pleased and delighted with you and I know this because I, Father Adam am pleased and delighted with you and I love you and bless you today and always with a big big smile so do as I do looking at my Campbell’s soup can reminding myself that to God, the only One who’s opinion about me matters, I am like Campbell's soup: “mmm, mmm GOOD.”
Father Adam Kotas