God is Good!

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Jesus of Nazareth Is Passing By

An early trip to Ireland to visit relatives

In the spacious dining room of the Major Seminary of the Chicago Archdiocese at Mundelein, Illinois, a huge oil painting covers the entire west wall.  This work of art shows much blue sky and a roadway.  At the curbside, some people are standing, others sitting – all looking at someone or some thing not shown in the painting.  A long shadow falls across the road.

As a seminarian, I didn’t understand the masterpiece for a long time, not being curious enough to ask about it.  Too many other new experiences, as a first year man in the seminary, were occupying my thoughts.  Finally, one day, I walked up to the painting and discovered the title on the bottom corner of the work: “Jesus Of Nazareth Is Passing By.”

By the time I left the seminary as a priest in 1944, this painting had burned itself and its message into my mind – never to be forgotten, always to be treasured, a lifelong influence for good in my life ahead.  Especially in times of darkness and confusion, this mighty work of some artist would flash through my thoughts and remind me that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  Yes!  He is present in the Tabernacle, in the Eucharist, in the Words of Scripture.

During a three-month Pastoral Ministry Course in Dublin Ireland, in 1975, I met a Father Michael Hollings, a priest-lecturer from London, England.  He impressed me the most of all the thirty-two speakers I listened to.  His constant theme came across like this: Spend time with the Lord before the Tabernacle: He is passing by with His healing graces, gifts of encouragement, peace and love – the same Gentle Person of the Gospels.  Again and again, as I heard his words, the painting from the seminary dining room occupied my thoughts.

Some may say, “Father, you often write of trying times in your priesthood – misunderstandings, unhappy work situations and other challenges in your work in the Church.”  That is correct!  As I look back over 68 years, I am glad that I never had perfect control over the happenings in my life.  The dark side of daily living gave me the chance to turn to the Lord passing by and beg Him for help in a hundred different ways.

The reader too, has to deal with the rough side of life.  No one has perfect conditions for living, with the weaknesses of original sin in everyone about us.  Turn to the Christ of the Gospels.  We can reach out to Him in prayer from any place we find ourselves!

Fr. Mc Kenna

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April 28, 2012 - Posted by | Bulletins


  1. I have been trying to view “Jesus of Nazareth Is Passing By” (painting at Mundelein Seminary). Is there a place to search on line?
    Beautiful column written by Fr. McKenna.

    Comment by Rita Kappel | April 28, 2012 | Reply

  2. Is there any way you could get a picture of this painting and post it to your blog? I would love to see it!

    Great article Fr. McKenna, your stories always have me so engaged. Thank you!!

    Comment by Lynne Donegan | April 28, 2012 | Reply

  3. I have seen it and it is amazing and moving. Could not find it online. It’s by an Italian painter but I can’t remember his name. The title was in Italian. Could someone please post it?

    Comment by tbhamdg | July 13, 2013 | Reply

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