Jesus communicates the mysteries of God’s kingdom through parables. Unlike a riddle that makes us laugh, a parable is meant to make us think. It both reveals and conceals, offering us first a flash of insight and then leaving us wondering whether we have really understood the message. Often Jesus’ parables reveal as much about the hearers as they do about the kingdom. How we receive them brings to light whether we are willing to accept and grapple with mystery or whether we would just as soon abandon it because it lies beyond our understanding and control.
The parable of the weeds and the wheat is a cautionary tale, meant to encourage believers in the practice of virtue. St. Matthew does not avoid the possibility that people may not accept the message of Jesus. And there are consequences for those who do not. Jesus gives practical, concrete instructions on how to live as a citizen of the kingdom. The beatitudes are one part of that and the corporal works of mercy form another part of Jesus’ message.