One bitterly cold night in December of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that 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 bad neighborhood, your Honor,” the man told the mayor. “She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.”
LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions - $10 or 10 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 $10 fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom 50 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.”
So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, 50 cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some 70 petty criminals, people with traffic violations and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid 50 cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
Likewise, the grace of God operates at a profound level in the life of a loving person. Oh, that would recognize God’s grace when it comes to us!