St. Paul speaks of his own ministry today, and the way that this is something he must do, not something he has chosen. Of course, like anyone else, he still has freedom, but says that the call to preach the Gospel has been imposed on him. We may feel the same about something in our life, something we feel has been thrust upon us, but we have a choice within that.
He goes on further to speak of this choice, to carry out his duty willingly or unwillingly:
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
We all have the same type of choice in what we do with what has been given to us. We can see it as a duty, a chore, a stewardship, a burden, a job, a commission, or many other ways of expressing it. What St. Paul has done, and what he is encouraging us to do, is see how our lives are meant for something more than that, and is expressing it by the model of his own life.
St. Paul made his living as a tentmaker. He made and repaired tents for people all over the place, and was able to support himself, so as to never have to worry about the people he ministered to paying him or feeding him. While the other Apostles were supported by their people they led, St. Paul showed us all how to make your life’s work different from your job.
There are very few who have ever had such a great calling as St. Paul, so this may be a bit lofty to try and compare our lives to. But for each of us, there are moments when we are called to be Christ’s hands working in the world. This may be for a neighbor in need, or for a stranger on the other side of the world. We are also called to live out a huge portion of our lives for the call central in all our lives, that of caring for our families.
Does someone get paid for wiping their child’s nose? What about helping bathe their elderly mother? Will you get paid extra for helping your nephew with his homework? All of these things are what God is calling us to do every day. We are meant to be more than what we do, because we are not meant to see these things as tasks to accomplish. Like St. Paul, we are called to see them as acts of love, little pieces of our mission in life to be Christ to one another. May our reward be great in Heaven.