Mercy is the effusion of the sovereign Good who communicates His goodness to creatures; justice is zeal defending the rights of that sovereign Good who ought to be loved above all things. In this sense, justice intervenes when the creature tramples on God’s rights and offends Him instead of loving and honoring Him. The punishment of the sinner is the fruit of justice, but at the same time it is the fruit of mercy, for “whom the Lord loves, He chastises” (Prov 3:12). God does not punish a sinner in order to destroy him but to convert him. In this life the means used by divine justice are always directed by mercy, insofar as their purpose is always to put the sinner in such conditions as to profit by the divine mercy. Therefore, God is always merciful even when He punishes; His chastisements are not merely punishments, but they are also, and above all, remedies to cure our souls from sin, except in the case of those who refuse to be converted.
In our spiritual life, mercy and justice are continually alternating and intertwining. God’s mercy offers us His divine friendship’ but, in justice, He cannot receive as an intimate friend anyone who retains the slightest attachment to sin and imperfection. Therefore He subjects us to purifying trials for a twofold purpose: to make us atone for our faults – which is the aim of justice – and to destroy in us the last roots of sin that we may be disposed for union with God – and this is the aim of mercy. Hence, we must accept our trials humbly, realizing that we deserve them. We must accept them with zeal and a love of justice, wishing to avenge in ourselves God’s rights, rights which we too often forget and ignore. We ought to accept them too with love, for every trial is a great mercy on the part of God, who wants to make us advance in the way of sanctity.
Jesus, whom God the Father loves above all creation, received the greatest suffering.