• Today's Daily Devotion
Our Opposing Natures
IN JEREMIAH 17:9, God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Yet in Ezekiel 36:26 God also says, “I will give you a new heart and ...


Chief Chaplain Alvin Kass

New York, NY, Police Department

IN JEREMIAH 17:9, God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Yet in Ezekiel 36:26 God also says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” Those verses represent the extremes of man’s nature—evil and good—and the line that divides them was never more clear than on September 11, 2001.

In my forty-four years of service as an NYPD chaplain, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center dwarfed all I’d ever experienced. At Ground Zero the smoke was so thick it seemed like the middle of the night. The sight was sickening; it was a veritable war zone. It was incredible to think those Twin Towers were no longer standing.

From Ground Zero I went to a nearby high school, where exhausted police officers and firefighters took time out for a brief respite. The pain and anguish of the ordeal could not have been more evident. They were worried about their colleagues, and couldn’t understand how anyone could do such a terrible thing. Then it was on to St. Vincent’s and Bellevue hospitals to visit the injured. At St. Vincent’s a young police officer cried uncontrollably; he couldn’t comprehend what he had seen. Family members of Trade Center employees needed comforting, but having been to Ground Zero, it was difficult to encourage them about the fate of their loved ones.


Then I was called to police headquarters, where I stayed until nearly 3 a.m. Together with other department chaplains, we tried to offer strength and comfort to families of officers not accounted for. On the Friday after the disaster, I spoke at an interfaith service at headquarters. Throughout that awful week and the many that followed, our faith in God, along with the strength we drew from each other, is what brought us through the ordeal.

Yes, we have two natures. As a police department chaplain, I often have seen both of these at work. On call 24/7, I work with people of every race, religion, color, and creed, counseling them in times of stress, both personal and professional. I thank God for the strength he gave me to be of service during those terrible days, and I pray it will never happen again.

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