The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
Astounding words those. No wonder some of the Jews thought He had lost His mind. What shepherd in his right mind would die to save his sheep? Is not the life of any human worth more than all the sheep in the world? And yet there is a greater gap between the life of the Word Incarnate and us than between and shepherd and his sheep.
Only love can explain the logic of this. And only the immortality of the soul can justify it. No sheep will ever be worth dying for, for when sheep die, they are simply dead. But a human is worth dying for, because his soul will go on living forever. The Good Shepherd dies so that His sheep may have eternal life and not be engulfed in eternal damnation which is very real and possible for all the sheep. The Good Shepherd dies because He knows that without His death, the sheep will be forever separated from God. And that is a very good reason to die: to save a soul.
All, but especially shepherds of souls, should take these words to heart. A man who undertakes the charge of leading souls must be ready to die for them, for if he is not, he runs the terrible risk of putting a lot of things before the needs of souls, and then he would no longer be a shepherd but a hireling, or worse, a wolf.
Pray for your shepherds, that the Good Shepherd may inspire them with a profound conviction of what's really at stake in this short time between Our Lord's resurrection and His second coming. When He returns, He will demand an account of us shepherds, and the time of mercy will have passed forever. Now is the day of salvation.