While speaking of formation to the attitude of renunciation and living a life of poverty, Fr Jose Plascencia mentioned three good points, drawing lesson from the parable of the merchant and the precious pearl... he called it the 'phenomenology of renunciation'.
- The pearls the merchant initially possessed are renounced (sold) not because they are false! They were authentic and up till then made up the merchant's wealth. Similarly when we make our profession we give up all that we live by not because it is bad or evil; far from it, it is all that made up what we are and lead us to this point of taking a decision. We do not renounce bad things but good things. Renouncing 'bad things' hardly makes the cut to an authentic and complete renunciation.
- I renounce the good things because I've found something better! The merchant sold all he had because he found the pearl of extreme value for which he was willing to forgo everything he had. If our consecrated life, centred on following and the imitation of Jesus, is not fascinating, the renunciation it requires becomes unjust and dehumanizing.
- The joy of now possessing the precious pearl never eliminates the fear that maybe it is not authentic. In religious life, that is the risk: faith. If we become convinced that what we are living for and doing, is not the truth, then we become mere salesmen (not Salesian) who are in the art of selling the product to others but never trusting, never using it oneself. The community becomes an institution; religious life, a mere service; and my consecration a heavy burden that I (and others with me) unwilling grin and bear.