N.B.: From December 17 on, the Church offers special readings to ensure that key parts of the Book of Isaiah are read before Christmas. Therefore, when the third Sunday of Advent falls on December 17, use the scripture reading for December 17 instead.
As the Advent season advances and Christmas Day approaches, so, too, do the prophecies of Isaiah take on an added urgency. As we begin the third week of Advent on Gaudete Sunday, we see that the Lord has passed His judgment on Israel, whose obedience to His Word is, at best, merely out of habit. Indeed, many of the children of Israel no longer even acknowledge Him as Lord.
Therefore, God says, a new day will come, in which the deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, and the poor shall have the gospel preached to them. Isaiah's words foreshadow Christ's own answer to the disciples of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:4-5: "Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them."
The deaf, the blind, and the poor, of course, refer to specific people that Christ healed and preached to; but they also refer to us, to whom the message of salvation is now extended.
And the Lord said: Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips glorify me, but their heart is far from me, and they have feared me with the commandment and doctrines of men: Therefore behold I will proceed to cause an admiration in this people, by a great and wonderful miracle: for wisdom shall perish from their wise men, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Woe to you that are deep of heart, to hide your counsel from the Lord: and their works are in the dark, and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us?
This thought of yours is perverse: as if the clay should think against the potter, and the work should say to the maker thereof: Thou madest me not: or the thing framed should say to him that fashioned it: Thou understandest not.
Is it not yet a very little while, and Libanus shall be turned into charmel, and charmel shall be esteemed as a forest?
And in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and out of darkness and obscurity the eyes of the blind shall see.
And the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For he that did prevail hath failed, the scorner is consumed, and they are all cut off that watched for iniquity: That made men sin by word, and supplanted him that reproved them in the gate, and declined in vain from the just.
Therefore thus saith the Lord to the house of Jacob, he that redeemed Abraham: Jacob shall not now be confounded, neither shall his countenance now be ashamed: But when he shall see his children, the work of my hands in the midst of him sanctifying my name, and they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall glorify the God of Israel: And they that erred in spirit, shall know understanding, and they that murmured, shall learn the law.
- Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)