Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Reading Matthew... part 3

Look at how the pais is described in Greek, "ho pais mou," "the servant who is mine." That child's body is under somebody else's control- whether it's his father, his owner, and, as I argue elsewhere, his pedophile. The centurion's act on the pais' behalf emphasizes the latter's marginalization. As far as the text is concerned, the pais cannot speak or seek his own healing. Yet, that child because he is "paralyzed," albeit momentarily, paralyzes not just his owner-who thus seeks help from Jesus-but also the imperial expansions (the goings and the comings) in Matthew. Throughout the gospel, characters come and go, border crossings are effected: magi from the East come seeking the king of the Jews (2:1-12); Joseph and his family flee into Egypt (2:13-15); Herod sends his death squads to Bethlehem to murder children (2:16-18); Joseph and his family go to Nazareth, from Egypt (2:19-23); Jesus goes to John the baptizer and is led by the Spirit into the wilderness (3:1-4:11); Jesus leaves Nazareth and makes his home in Capernaum (4:12); the centurion comes to Jesus and the latter is convinced of the imperial authority that effects goings and comings, of travel to distant lands, of control-at-a-distance (8:5-13). The disciples are systematically prepared for their commissioning (10:1-42); the Canaanite woman comes to Jesus (15:21-28); the heavy-laden come to Jesus (11:28). Jesus eventually sends out his disciples at the end (28:16-20). Everyone moves in the story, except the pais in Matthew 8:5-13. Yes, even for a brief moment, the pais revels in the "space" her "paralysis" brings. For about eight short verses, in the very long, twenty-eight chapter Matthean narrative, the pais is free of the centurion, the colonized is free of her colonizer.

Majority of Filipinos remain colonized subjects, a mental colony. Migrant Filipina domestic workers, numbering over 7 million, are the global servants of late capitalism. Tens of millions find themselves squatters in their own homeland. Those who have opted for "The Promise Land," the United States, find themselves treated as second-class citizens. Yet, despite all these, they have always resisted. The jeepney is the best symbol of resistance and decolonization for Filipinos. Now, they have another symbol--the pais in Matthew.
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