Similarly, in the Gospels Jesus says that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. All priests are thus called to lay down their lives in imitation of Jesus. But, we too must be on guard against the cheap imitation. In some ways, the increasing demands upon priests can be a cheap substitution for a true offering of one's life. We who are shepherds have to be certain that when we give up our life, we are doing so for the sake of the flock and in imitation of Christ. There are subtle forms of imitation that definitely will take our life, but are not authentic pastoral charity. Not every dead shepherd is a good shepherd. Some are just dead shepherds! The good shepherd is the one who dies in union with Christ for the sake of the sheep.
I recently read a quote by Pope John XXIII on promoting priestly vocations. This is what he said: