If we examine the Greek word for slave, we discover that it comes from the verb to bind. It is the paradox of the Gospel. True freedom only comes from surrendering ourselves to Jesus and allowing ourselves to be bound by Him, to be bound to Him.
Of course this means that the opposite is also true. If we search for freedom as the world defines it (the ability to do what we want), the we end of in other kinds of slavery, most commonly slavery to our feelings. We begin to loose the freedom that is characteristic of humans, and begin to act more like animals. We react to stimuli. One of the best examples is the entry of the verb " to troll." To troll someone on the internet refers to intentionally posting something offensive or provocative with the goal of eliciting a response. People who are free in the true sense can't be trolled. People who are free are not slaves to their phones.
St. Paul who declares himself a slave in his opening today, is the same person who elsewhere proclaims that he has learned to be content in any circumstance. St Paul is bound so tightly to Jesus that he is not tossed around by life, by circumstance, by his emotions. He is free to think, to choose, to act. His true humanity shines forth because he is a slave.
The difficulty is that this surrender is not something done once. The surrender to Jesus Christ must be constantly renenewed by each of us. Because of original sin, the urge to pull away is strong in all of us, the urge toward so-called independence. This is where prayer comes in. It is in the quiet time alone with that we can renew our surrender, check the bindings, allow the Holy Spirit to pull them tight. Even just a few moments here and there throughout the day can help us remain tightly bound.
Perhaps today is a good time for each of us to examine our lives for signs of slavery. Are we slaves to our work, our feelings, our technology; or are we, like Paul, slaves of Jesus Christ.