St. Paul, at his circumcision ceremony, was given the name Saul, the hero who preceded David as king, and who stood head and shoulders above other young men. This latter Saul, as a boy had been sent to a strict training school run by the ultra conservative Pharisees.
As a young man, then, he became a militant agent of the Pharisees in rooting out liberal Jews. Then, when Christians became numerous, and when they did not observe Kosher rules, Saul became a warrior against them.
In today’s first reading we see Saul, armed with indictments heading for Damascus to round up and imprison Christians,when suddenly Saul was thrown to the ground, hearing a voice asking him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
In three different chapters of the “Acts of the Apostles” we hear Saul retelling this story. He tells it in Chapter Nine, in Chapter Twenty-two, and in Chapter Twenty-Seven. The three accounts are identical except for one minor difference: in Chapter Twenty-Seven Saul recalls Jesus saying, “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
A goad is a pointed stick a rider uses to poke his mount’s ribs to get it moving. Jesus was using it figuratively, referring to the many urges with which he had poked Saul, wanting to get him to see that the Christians were really God’s people.
Is God goading you to see what changes he wants you to make, remedying your faults?
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