beggars and pescado

“As long as there is still one beggar around, there will still be myth.” – Walter Benjamin, ‘The Arcades Project’

I have an app on my phone that’s desperately attempting to teach me Spanish. And I’m desperately attempting to let it do its job. But the deeply-rooted French that’s been ingrained for at least twenty years keeps popping up stubbornly, confounding and confusing most of my efforts. But the app, it keeps trying, and I keep trying along with it.

It seems to focus on a few words rather obsessively, and the one that comes up the most by far is ‘pescado’, Spanish for ‘fish’. Which seems quite suitable, given that fish have a role in the story.

*   *   *   *   *

Jesus was homeless. Voluntarily homeless, mind you. He went around preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven while relying on others for food and shelter. Not only did he rely on others instead of ‘working’ for a living, he also was instrumental in convincing other folks who did have jobs to quit their jobs and give up their wealth and follow him around in order to preach the Word with him. Jesus encouraged voluntary homelessness in order to spread the Word, and he made his views on wealth very clear throughout the Gospels.

I would often bring this up in my role as a homeless advocate, especially in the company of self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ who felt justified in their prejudicial views of the homeless, especially if and when they start making judgments around the fact that the homeless only beg and do not work. (Yes, kids, not only was Jesus a homeless socialist of Middle Eastern descent, he strongly encouraged a culture of poverty…)

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the four men whom Jesus convinces to quit fishing and follow him around Galilee were Simon, Andrew, James, and John. They all ended up with illustrious careers as four of Jesus’s twelve apostles, and eventually became saints after their deaths.


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

But that fisherman-turned-apostle James? That’s St. James of the scallop, St. James who was re-mythologized as St. James Matamoros in the 9th century when his relics were allegedly found in Galicia. Those relics inspired the pilgrimage that became known as the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James.

The Gospel of Matthew identifies James as the son of Zebedee and Mary Salome. Mary Salome is one of the ‘Three Marys’ whose story is central to the mythology around Sara-la-Kali and the yearly Roma pilgrimage to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The one we’re headed to in late May.

And I’m the first to admit that this connection evaded me for years, and only slapped me on the head a few weeks ago. I feel slightly foolish, but its all good.





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