"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
One has to wonder how many times this thought crossed the mind of Jesus during His ministry before He uttered it at His crucifixion. Certainly not when people converted upon encountering Him, whether by His words or deeds. Certainly not when people asked Him in faith for something. And certainly not when He showed forgiveness through His words and deeds.
Yet, one will find example after example of those who "know not what they do." The Scribes and Pharasees debating Him. The rich young man walking away from His invitation. James and John asking for their seats. The crowds shouting their "Hosanna". Peter--well, pick an incident.
Judas Iscariot. Caiaphas. Herod. Pontius Pilate.
We, when we sin.
Yes, there are degrees of culpability. But, because of Original Sin, there is damage done to our wills and intellects. And it is that damage that does not allow us to truly realize in the very core of our being what our sinfulness does to us. It is in that sense we "know not what we do." It is the war within us mentioned by St. Paul.
Yet, is that not what metanoia is all about? Is that not why we, "with the help of Thy Grace," seek to uproot in our souls that which separates us from God? Is that not why we examine our consciences and seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to continue to strengthen what has been weakened?
It is the level of sanctity asked of us ("Be therefore perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."). It is the level of sanctity achieved by the saints. It is a level of sanctity we can have. The Son has asked the Father with the Spirit that this may be. It continues its fruition when we seek it.
"Father, forgive them."