Monday, March 23, 2009


"But of that that day and hour (when heaven and earth shall pass away), no one knows." Matt. 24:36

Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage, is a movie rich in biblical imagery and allusion. But you don't realize it until the last act.

The movie begins as a crypic thriller - for no apparent reason, a young girl in 1959 begins franticly writing down a series of unrelated numbers and handing it to her teacher to put in a time capsule to be opened in fifty years. Jump ahead to 2009 when the capsule is unearthed and Nicholas Cage's son happens upon the page of numbers.

Out of curiosity one night, Cage notices that several numbers correspond to the dates and death tolls of major catastrophes over the past fifty years, with only three dates still in the future.

Knowing poses an interesting dialogue with Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, when he says "But of that day and hour (when heaven and earth shall pass away), no one knows." (Matt. 25:36). In Nicolas Cage's experience, he does know the day and the place of these tragic events - but for what good? Cage tries to stop a subway disaster in New York, but is powerless to do much. The film seems to say, even if we did know the day and the hour, what good would it do us anyway?

What Jesus tries to teach us is that we spend a lot of time worrying about tomorrow, without giving much thought to today. Not that future planning isn't good, but we can get wrapped up in anxiety that we miss the world in front of our eyes.

In another passage in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus tells us, "Can any of you, by worrying, add a single moment to your life?... Seek first the Reign of God today, and all will be given to you anyway." (Matt. 6:27,33)

SPOILER ALERT: In this movie, Cage eventually realizes that the final prediction on the paper of numbers is for the end of the world. However, there is hope - his son and a friend have been selected by angelic beings from another world (which look eerily similar to the beings in the first two chapters of the book of Ezekiel) to escape the earth before it is destroyed in flames (and to re=populate another earth-like planet as a new Adam and Eve). Just like Noah in the flood, hope exists on the other side of disaster.

This is the pascal mystery we must all face. We know that bad days, loss, saddness, and even death await us all one day. We cannot hide from that fact. But just like Jesus, there is always hope beyond the worst circumstances.

Many of us go through life dreading the inevitable - whether it be a horrible final exam, a crucial doctor visit, the end of a job, the passing of a friend, or our own death. Like Nicholas Cage, we might even dread the end of the world as we know it. But life always lies just beyond. And in the meantime, we must make the best of the life we have right now.

In our lives now, we must reconcile with others, give freely to those who ask, be compassionate to those around us, and be honorable in all our actions. We must be hopeful people, with a belief that every dying is just an avenue to new life. Knowing that is good enough.

No comments: