Pondering Mark 9:48 “where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
Focus on the key word “Their”
A few years ago, I bought a fly trap and placed near the garbage cans outside, as the neighborhood had a serious fly problem that year. It was a clear plastic bag, in which a poisons liquid was in the lower portion of the bag, and a plastic neck separating the entrance, from the liquid. When the flies would enter into it, they were then trapped and could not escape, and died. Ick. After a few days, the bag was full and the stench was unbearable. I needed to discard it. What I found was it became so full with dead flies, others used the body’s to lay their eggs and most of the bag was full of maggots, eating the ones who had perished. It became so full of death, the poison couldn’t even do its job and the maggots were living very comfortable lives, evolving and flying out into the neighborhood, pestering and annoying. The sight was so horrific, I refuse to purchase another one as long as I live.
Due to original sin and being creatures possessing “Free Will”, before the soul is converted to our Lord, we are all nothing but worms. “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21) Feeding off of the poison in this world, lust, greed, anger, selfishness etc..with no regard for or taking for granted, the Creator, He who placed us here, or regard to our fellow man, with only one difference. We have been given a choice. A choice to continue being the worm, or to have that worm morph into what our Creator intended us to be through the grace He gives to us, to build our faith and rely on Him completely through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Eating and drinking the “Food” HE gives to us and avoiding the toxic worldly “Things” bent on our destruction.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
I will quote one of my favorite saints, taken from the Interior Castle: by St Teresa of Avila “Then, finally, the worm, which was large and ugly, comes right out of the cocoon a beautiful white butterfly.”
Once a soul is in hell, there is no more time to change. The soul is left in the state it has died in. Thus, the “worm” belongs to them. The worm that became large and ugly, feeding of the toxins that poison the soul, then becomes food for the other worms, at the bottom of the bag, from which there is no escape. Eating off of each others hate and torment, where sincerity is no more and peace is never found.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1057 Hell’s principal punishment consists of eternal separation from God in whom alone man can have the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: “Lord, let me never be parted from you.” If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him “all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).
When the soul chooses to live a life with Christ as the center, the worm then enters into the “cocoon” or “Conversion” where the Holy Spirit is ALLOWED to burn away the things the worm once was, and then becomes the “beautiful butterfly”. As we are in the “Cocoon” we are allowed to see where we once were, and when you see the state of the “worm” (Recollection and Repentance) you want nothing more then to move closer and closer to our Lord. “Fear of the Lord” is the first gift of the Holy Spirit. You want nothing more then to serve Him and you know you can not live without Him. Your entire world becomes Him. You LOVE because He is love. You are merciful, because He is mercy. You forgive with love and mercy because He is forgiveness.You leave yourself behind, the worm you once were, because He has no use for it. “A new wineskin” has been given to you and you protect it, because you know it is the greatest gift of love that can be given. New life and eternal peace.