This story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is the key story in the Acts of the Apostles. All twenty-seven chapters of this book, and all of Paul’s twelve Letters, revolve around Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Because of its importance, St. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, tells this complete story three times: here in Chapter Nine, again in Chapter Twenty-Two, then again in Chapter Twenty-Six of the Acts of the Apostles.
In each telling of the story St. Luke quoted Our Lord’s words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” But only in the third telling of the story in Chapter Twenty-Six did St. Luke include ten extra words Jesus said to Saul. They were, “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
A goad is a sharp stick, and a donkey would be kicking against the goad when it insisted on going its own way when its master was strongly urging it to go another way. Apparently, Jesus had been urging Saul to open his eyes to see that the Christians he was imprisoning were people dear to God.
In our religious life the goad would be actual graces by which God is urging us to abandon wrong courses in life. As I remember it, there was a catechism question that asked, Can we resist the grace of God? And the answer was, Yes we can, and unfortunately we often do, resist the grace of God.
In our time of quiet prayer we must honestly seek out what courses God wants us to take, asking for the Grace to change our ways to go his way.