Our Gospel passage from St. Matthew says Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent.”
Let me point out that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek, and where our English translation quotes Jesus as saying, “Repent” Matthew actually wrote that Jesus said, ”Meta- noiete.” or, “Turn your thinking around.”
That’s different. “Repent” has you looking to the past, punishing yourselves for what you did wrong. While,“turn your thinking around” has you looking to the future. doing better.
Ancient Greece gave us two great philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. They both believed in the one God. The difference between them was that Plato thought that our souls existed with God before we were conceived, while Aristotle taught that they both were created in the same instant.
Plato’s way of thinking considered the soul to be imprisoned in the body. He felt that we should punish the body to keep it from getting the upper hand. That led to saintly people punishing the body to strengthen the soul. For the first thousand years of Christian history good people, following Plato, did a lot of repenting.
Aristotle, in thinking that our body and soul were created together, advised us to take a holistic approach to life, cultivating a healthy mind in a healthy body. His recipe for a happy future would have us turning our thinking around, rather than our going around glum, repenting for our sins. That’s not what Jesus actually told us to do.