Letter 82

Maria Teresa Dávila

Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Andover Newton Theological School

April 11, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

Periodically I think of what the measure of my life will be. Will it be financial or professional success? Will it be a long list of academic accolades or the wealth of a large family? As often as I ask the question, the same answer enters my heart and my mind: hospitality. I pray that when I die I am measured by the welcome I offered stranger, family, foe, friend, documented, alternately documented, heterosexual or LGBTQI+. I want my legacy to be that in my home, heart, and mind, all are truly welcome.

I find the beckoning call to practice hospitality deep in my faith tradition. My life has been shaped by stories of hospitality that overturn our expectations of who is welcome and who is not: from the hospitality of Pharaoh’s daughter—who by taking in Moses lifted up an entire people’s freedom from the waters (Exodus 2:5-10)—to the hospitality of the woman who was judged as sinful by her townspeople but who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair (Luke 7:36-50).

These texts also seep into my understanding of this great nation: not only hospitality to peoples of diverse origin, but hospitality to diverse ideas and faiths. This has become the very identity of the city I live in, Malden, MA, and so many other cities and towns in the United States. Today, as in biblical times, the greatness of a people, its cities and towns, its schools and institutions, is its ability to exercise hospitality, particularly to the most vulnerable members of the human family.

In the plans this administration has presented for the welfare of the nation, I fail to see hospitality honored as a cherished trait of this nation. In the executive orders and legislative agenda for the coming months, I continually read of exclusive entry, differential treatment, and disenfranchisement for the vulnerable. I implore you all to consider how the hospitality of others has enabled you and your loved ones to be where you are today. Look to implement policies through the lens of hospitality, so that our legacy may be a national tapestry of welcome.


MT Dávila

Maria Teresa Dávila, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Andover Newton Theological School


About the author

Maria Teresa Dávila, Associate Professor Christian Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School, is a lay woman in the Roman Catholic tradition. She earned her M.T.S. at the Boston University School of Theology and Ph.D. at Boston College. She focuses on the intersections of class identity formation and Christian ethics. She is currently undertaking a study of the relationship between understandings of discipleship and activism-public witness-faith in action.