THE THIEF AND HIS MOTHER
A boy who was carrying his teacher's writing tablet stole it and brought it
triumphantly home to his mother who received the stolen goods with much delight.
Next, the boy stole a piece of clothing, and by degrees he became a habitual
criminal. As the boy grew older and became an adult, he stole items of greater
and greater value. Time passed and the man was finally caught in the act and
taken off to court where he was condemned to death: woe betide the trade of
the thief! His mother stood behind him, weeping as she shouted, 'My son, what
has become of you?' He said to his mother, 'Come closer, mother, and I will
give you a final kiss.' She went up to him, and all of a sudden he bit her nose,
tugging at it with his teeth until he cut it clean off. Then he said to her,
'Mother, if only you had beaten me at the very beginning when I brought you
the writing tablet, then I would not have been condemned to death!'
This is what the story tells us: if you are wise, you will tear out vice
by the roots, in other words, at the very beginning of sinfulness and other
wickedness, so that the severing of the root will cause the branches to wither