At Mass, Bible readings are the hallmark of the Liturgy of the Word. Usually, the first of this is from the part of the Bible known as the Old Testament. Other very appropriate names for this portion of the Bible are “Jewish” or “Hebrew Scriptures,” for they were written by and are considered sacred by God’s First Chosen People.
But just because the origin of the Old Testament is Jewish doesn’t mean we consider those writings in the same way as they do. Oh, we certainly do consider them as inspired by God and so containing authentic divine teaching. But we know that the Old Testament is not complete in itself in revealing God to us. It prepares for and foreshadows the coming of the ultimate Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself. (The Church’s own Constitution on Divine Revelation has the most wonderful summary of how we view and use the Old Testament in its nos. 14 and 15, if you want to read more about this.)
Many very sincere people, somehow, lose track of this basic approach in their Bible study. Oh, they’re usually smart enough to realize that all of the ancient dietary laws and social customs don’t apply anymore! But they get confused when they view Old Testament images of God, for instance, which sometimes are very primitive and portray Him as cruel or capricious. The key is: always seek the meaning of the Old Testament in light of the New. Then it can best be seen as “enriching” our faith!