St. Jerome famously said that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
He didn’t say WHICH Scripture, and there are people who think that reading the New Testament or just the Gospels is enough for the average person in the pew. But you can’t get through even the first chapter of Matthew and understand it without knowing the whole history of Israel from Abraham on, and you can’t possibly understand why Jesus came without knowing what happened at the dawn of history in the Garden of Eden. The “Messiah,” the “anointed one” the Gospels are about, is someone who’s announced and prepared for and yearned for from the beginning of time.
“The New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old,” the Church tells us. “As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 129).
If you aren’t familiar with your Bible, even if you’re a faithful, Mass-attending Catholic: let me encourage you to start reading it. Get to know who David is, and Abraham, and all those other people mentioned in Matthew 1. Get to know the action-packed love story that ties all those people together and points to Christ. Learn from their real-life experiences why you can trust God, who Jesus is, and what a difference that makes for you.
If you need some inspiration to get started (or if you want a reason to give thanks!) take a look at how this priest found Jesus in every book of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.