woman in Bethlehem, PA, who was accused of stealing a porcelain statue of Baby Jesus from a local Nativity scene. Police say that she took the statue to the local hospital and left it with a note: "Child has broken foot which is been (sic) neglected. Parents Joseph and Mary Christ got a warning." The 49-year-old woman has been charged with theft and institutional vandalism.
This reminded me of an episode of "Dragnet" that airs every Christmas -- sometimes more often -- titled "The Big Little Jesus." I've heard the radio version of this story and I've seen a televised version of the story. I decided to check out the televised episode last night after hearing about this news story. Here's how the "Dragnet" episode goes:
Sgt. Joe Friday and Officer Frank Smith are called out to an old Catholic church. Father Rojas reports that a statue of the Baby Jesus was stolen from the Church's Nativity scene during the morning mass. It's a special statue that's been around for years, so the priest is anxious to regain the statue before the Christmas mass: 24 hours from now!
Friday and Smith track down a few leads and learn of a man named Claude Stroup. He was at the morning mass and was seen holding a wrapped package. Stroup lives in a halfway house for guys who are down-and-out. The police officers spend all of their energy arresting and questioning Stroup, only to discover that he had nothing to do with the theft.
Friday and Smith sadly return to the church and tell Father Rojas that they've failed to find the missing statue. Suddenly, the church doors burst open and a young boy walks down the aisle pulling a wagon. And in the wagon? It's the Baby Jesus!
The boy's name is Paco Mendoza. He prayed and prayed for a red wagon for Christmas and promised God that he would take Baby Jesus for the first ride if he received a red wagon. The boy was forgiven by both the priest and the cops, and he assisted with replacing the Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene!
And that's the story of "The Big Little Jesus." Which featured a much more forgiving ending than this weekend's incident!