‘Yesterday,’ today and forever

Ellie Appleton (played by Lily James) listens as Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) plays a Beatles’ classic in “Yesterday,” a movie in which only Jack remembers the Beatles. (Courtesy Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures)

The new movie “Yesterday” hits movie theaters June 28. Its premise is simple but profound.

Jack Malik, a struggling singer-songwriter, is about to throw in the towel on his non-emergent music career. He can’t make a go of it, other than playing small pubs and the side stage at music festivals.

Then comes a fateful night when the power goes off all around the world and Jack gets hit by a bus in the dark. Jack wakes up the next day and, after some interactions with his friends, realizes he is the only one in the world who remembers the Beatles and all their songs.

It’s a fun movie and if you like the Beatles’ music, you should definitely see it. The pop culture references are clever, and you won’t want to miss a couple of plot twists. (Read John Mulderig’s full review of “Yesterday.”)

Malik becomes at first a messenger for the messages in the Beatles’ songs, then an apologist, trying to explain who John, Paul, George and Ringo are. He eventually becomes the greatest “evangelist” for their words and music, even if he does accept credit for their work.

But “Yesterday” got me thinking: What if you or I woke up tomorrow morning and were the only ones in the world who remembered the message of Jesus? Would we be bold enough to take on the Good News as our own?

I understand that some people suffer from a “messiah complex,” where they believe they are destined to be a savior. Some even think they are Jesus Christ incarnate. And, today, we tend to think of those people as mentally ill, or at the very least, eccentric.

One of the benefits Malik has in “Yesterday” is a great memory. If the Beatles didn’t exist, their sheet music and lyrics are not available. He has to recreate the songs from his memory, struggling sometimes to get the words right.

Some people know the Bible chapter and verse, having read it and re-read it many times. We’ve even seen people with encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible in Hollywood films (“The Book of Eli,” for example).

Could you recreate the Bible – or even just the New Testament –from memory? Even if you could, could you convince people that the message is not yours, but God’s? Probably not without people thinking that you are crazy.

In Hebrews, we are told, “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:7-8).

The Good News that Jesus brought us is timeless – more timeless even than musical classics such as “Yesterday” or “The Long and Winding Road.”

But in many ways, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as simple as the other evangelist John – Lennon – said: “All you need is love. Love is all you need.”

 

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Christopher Gunty

Christopher Gunty

A Chicago-area native, Christopher Gunty is associate publisher/editor of The Catholic Review and CEO of its parent publishing company, The Cathedral Foundation/CR Media.

He has spent his whole professional career in Catholic journalism as a writer, photographer, editor, circulation manager and associate publisher. He spent four years with The Chicago Catholic; 19 years as founding editor and associate publisher of The Catholic Sun in Phoenix, Ariz.; and six years at The Florida Catholic. In July 2009, he came to Baltimore to lead The Cathedral Foundation.

Chris served as president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada from 1996 to 1998, and has traveled extensively learning about and reporting on the work of the church, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Haiti, Poland, Italy, Germany and finally in 2010 visited the Holy Land for the first time.