Those who know me, know that I am one for catching on late to things that most people already know. The concept of God's mercy is no exception to those things Others know that I don't. Sadly, this isn't a post about reaching understanding; I'm still confused.
I've read the Church documents and I've read St. Faustina's diary. I'm still missing something. In short, I don't see justice as a bad thing. It doesn't make me fear or dislike a vengeful God. Rather, my understanding of God's justice is very much wrapped up with the idea of a loving father, because I've always seen justice as more consequence-of-my-actions than retribution-from-an-angry-God. If I dent the car, break a plate, hurt someone's feelings, I can be forgiven, but I'm still left with the consequence of a dented car, broken plate, hurt friend.
I can identify with the Elder Son of the Prodigal Son story. It's not that I will whine about the unfairness of life (although I am capable of that), it's more that I have a complacent acceptance that we reap what we sow. Toss in a bit of the fact that I'd dearly love nothing more than to undo any of the hurtful things I've done or said to people, that I'd wish to be able to make up for what I've done, and you'll see why I don't think justice is all that bad. I know that God can take into account my human failings that led me to do wrong to other people; I don't see how it makes it better for the people I've hurt.
I've been reading The Context of Holiness by Fr. Marc Foley. Fr. Foley has come to my help, shedding new light on the topic:
For many of us, there is a conflict between God's mercy and justice. This was not true for Therese. In fact, she believed that God is Merciful because God is Just. God is so just, that when he judges us, he takes into consideration everything about us, and as a result, is merciful.This is the best description I've found, thus far, that comes close to satisfying my lingering misunderstanding about God's Mercy. Does this mean that, if we ask for Mercy, and have been merciful ourselves, God sees the whole picture and is able to make so that (anecdotally) the car becomes undented, the plate unbroken, the feelings unhurt? I don't know!
Fr. Foley goes on to quote St. Therese. A quote I've read many times, but never quite appreciated outside the context of this book.
"To me He has granted His infinite Mercy and through it I contemplate and adore the other divine perfections! All of these perfections appear to be resplendent with love; even His Justice (and perhaps this even more so than the others) seems to me clothed in love. What a sweet joy it is to think that God is Just, i.e., that He takes into account our weakness, that He is perfectly aware of our fragile nature." Therese was a sacrament of God's loving mercy for [others], who communicated . . . the infinite mercy of God who takes into account the weaknesses of our frail human nature.
So, friends who are more clever than me, please say a quick prayer for me, for understanding. This section of Fr. Foley's book is what I'll be chewing over on Divine Mercy Sunday.