He forgives all your iniquities. He heals all your infirmities. (Ps 103:3)
הַסֹּלֵ֥חַ לְכָל־עֲוֹנֵ֑כִי הָ֝רֹפֵ֗א לְכָל־תַּחֲלֻאָֽיְכִי׃
Qui propitiatur omnibus iniquitatibus tuis, qui sanat omnes infirmitates tuas.
Physician (רֹפֵא rōfē’), in Hebrew, is an active participle of the verb “to treat or cure” (rf’), which also means “to save”, “to heal”. The literal meaning of the participle is therefore “curative”, or “healing”.
In today’s responsorial Psalm (Ps 103), the psalmist blesses the Lord because He “forgives all your sins and heals (רֹפֵא rōfē’) all your diseases” (v. 3). The verb “heals” in the original Hebrew means “physician.” He, God, is your “physician.” This is how God speaks about Himself to Israel after crossing the Red Sea on the Passover night: “I am the Lord your physician (rōfē’)” (Exodus 15:26). It is important to note that in this verse, God’s action is shown through the two participles “forgiving (sōlēah)” and “healing (rōfē’).” The relationship between these two activities indicates mutual dependence, which means that without forgiveness, there is no healing.
Sirach presents a similar approach in the first Reading (Sir 27). The author connects God’s forgiveness of our sins with our forgiveness of the sins of others who have sinned against us and says: “When a man has anger against another, how can he seek healing from the Lord?” Each of us desires spiritual and physical healing, but to accept such healing, we need the availability to forgive, that is, to heal the relationship with another person.
Hence, the Lord Jesus in the Gospel (Mt 18) replies to the question of the impatient Peter: “Lord, how many times must I forgive?”, saying, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy times seven” which means “always”. By forgiving others, we free ourselves from the resentment and anger we often carry when someone offends us. Forgiveness is a type of healing that God, our רֹפֵא (rōfē’) – “physician”, performs in us.