In the first reading today we are drawing to the end of the time of Moses. In the last verse of today's first reading Moses command the people NOT to do two things. They are to not be afraid. And they are not to be dismayed. The English word dismay comes from German and refers to loosing power, becoming weak. The Hebrew word refers to being broken, shattered.
They are about to go through a time of great change. And Moses here shows great insight into human psychology. He understands that our most basic reaction to change, the unknown, is fear. And that fear can cause us to fracture, both as individuals and as a group.
God has formed them into a great people with Moses as their leader, but his time is coming to an end. There will be a new leader, who will be different. The people must not let their fear cause them to shatter.
Every metaphor has its limits and here we see the limit of the metaphor of the potter and the clay. A potter has only one chance to shape the clay and make it into a single vessel once fire harden. That vessel cannot be remade. We are a unique kind of clay not only can we be remade but we must be remade. Throughout our lives we must remain malleable. Always open to being reshaped by the hands of God. If we remain malleable, then we cannot shatter. Only the inflexible shatters.
Change is inevitable. And on a certain level fear is inevitable. The question is how we deal with both of them. Are we dismayed/shattered? Or do we allow the hands of God to reshape us to the new reality.