Since to everyone what is familiar is dear, both God and the men who are sent by Him manage things on this principle with a view to the salvation of the world. Think it not therefore unworthy of Him to have called [the wise men] by a star; since by the same [false reasoning] you will find fault with all the Jewish rites also, the sacrifices, and the purifications, and the new moons, and the ark, and the temple too itself. For even these derived their origin from Gentile grossness. Yet for all that, God, for the salvation of them who were in error, endured being served by the very things by which [those outside the faith] were accustomed to serving devils -- only He slightly altered them, that He might draw them off by degrees from their customs, and lead them towards the highest wisdom.
Just so He did in the case of the wise men also, not disdaining to call them by sight of a star, that He might lift them higher ever after. Therefore, after He has brought them, leading them by the hand, and has set them by the manger, it is no longer by a star, but by an angel that He now discourses unto them.
Thus did they little by little become better men.
-- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 6 on Matthew, Section 4