LaGuardia was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII. New Yorkers adored him. They called him 'the Little Flower' because he was always wore a carnation in his lapel. He would ride the New York City fire trucks, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and when the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.
One very cold night in January of 1935, LaGuardia showed up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge and took over the bench himself.
A tattered old woman was brought before him. She was charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told how her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man told LaGuadia. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." The mayor sighed, turned to the woman and said "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions—ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
The following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
That is grace. The judge paid the penalty. Isn’t that what Jesus has done for us?
Dr. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2014. Prior to that he served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Grove, for many years.