Jesus' actions in the Gospel today remind us that while it is good to take care of our physical needs, we cannot ignore our spiritual needs. He doesn't pity the crowd because of their lack of food. His pity is that they don't know what God offers them. They don't know of His love and how they can come to know God, not just know about Him.
It is also very probably that those in the crowd were fulfilling what was required of them by their religious leaders. But Faith in God is deeper than that. Sure, there are doctrines and a need for doctrine and there are rules. Doctrines teach, rules are meant to help us practically keep focused on God. The problem arises when the rules become the doctrine. That occurs when human beings have put themselves ahead of God.
Do you want to know God? Then, St. John tells us, simply love. To love another is different from tolerating another. Love desires: it desires the object of love, it desires the good of the one loved. To tolerate is to simply ignore the other or aspects of the other. Tolerance requires no effort, while love requires great effort.
We all know that a loving, meaningful relationship requires great work and sacrifice. We are called to love all those in the image and likeness of God with that same work and effort. Imagine how different our world would be if we all treated each in such a way! This is not some utopian, "all we are saying..." type attitude. It is demanded of the Christian, the follower of Christ.
Such an approach to life is difficult and it does require great effort. But that is why we have the sacraments, the family of faith, prayer and the example of the saints to inspire us. All of these open our hearts and minds to the graces and support the Lord offers, to help us to undergo the transformation and conversion of heart that is required to be one of his followers.