Hope As a Mindset

Fr. Paul explains the function of hope in the biblical story. (Episode 20)

Listen: https://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/9562426/tbal-t-tue%20episode%2020.mp3

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  1. I was reading Hebrews 6 at lunch today and was stumped a bit about how the author talks about hope at the end of that chapter. I just left it there unexplained as my break was ending, but then I was later pleasantly surprised on my drive home that today’s Tarazi Tuesdays podcast episode is about the same topic of hope.

    Heb 6 talks about hope in similar terms to what Fr. Paul describes in this episode. Hope derives from God’s promise (v. 17), is for the heirs “who have taken refuge” (v. 18), and is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (v. 19).

    The part that I initially had found most puzzling was in v 19-20: “…a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered…” This initially stood out to me because I don’t typically think of hope in such nearly personified terms — entering past curtains into rooms and such. One is often tempted to chalk up such quirks in the text to just literary hyperbole, a turn of phrase, or a manner of speaking, but such ‘explanations’, as I’ve learned, usually yield almost nothing in terms of insight.

    Now that I look at these passages again, it also seems interesting that hope “enters” (seemingly an ongoing state) into the inner shrine while Jesus “has entered” (seemingly a completed state). It’s almost like the scene of an ancient Israelite supplicant bringing an animal to be slaughtered at the Temple as an offering: the priest takes the animal parts into the area of the sanctuary where the supplicant can’t go, the latter waiting in anticipation outside. In other words, the priest “has entered” (completed state) while the supplicant has not, yet the supplicant’s hope “enters” (ongoing state) into the sanctuary trailing the priest, connecting nearly tangibly the supplicant outside to God’s promise inside. Doing a quick search about how this ritual actually takes place in the Older Testament, the process described in Lev 4:13-21 for expiating “the entire Israelite community sins” (v. 13) seems almost exactly like this.

    That Jesus is said to be “a high priest forever” in Heb 6:20 opens up a lot of other interesting parallels (e.g. Does Jesus not have to come back out of the inner sanctuary like the Levitical priest, who had to leave the Tabernacle and burn what was left of the animal outside (Lev 4:21)? Why is the place where they burned all of this refuse — an “ash heap” for “hide, meat, head, legs, internal organs, and dung” (Lev 4:11-12) — described as “ceremonially clean” (v. 12) when spaces are otherwise usually deemed unclean in the Older Testament at the slightest pretext of impurity?). I’ll just stop right here, though, since I’m wandering further afield.

    Thank you again, Fr. Paul, Rich, and Fr. Marc, for making these podcasts — they’re very much appreciated.

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